Our approach to environment and sustainable development through regulatory activities of the strategic road network.
We exercise our monitoring and enforcement functions through general statutory duties set out in the Infrastructure Act 2015, which we must take into account when making decisions.
As well as a focus on the performance and efficiency of National Highways activities in England, these duties include having regard to the environmental impact of the way in which National Highways achieves its objectives.
We deliver this through our monitoring of the specific environmental commitments that National Highways has made under outcome 4 of the Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2).
Each year, we report on progress through our monitoring of National Highways via our annual assessment of National Highways' performance.
Select a topic below to read more about other ways we address environment and sustainable development for roads.
Scrutinising National Highways management of the network (RIS2)
- We scrutinise National Highways and hold it to account for its management of the strategic road network in England. Under the second road investment strategy (RIS2), National Highways has four environmental key performance requirements to:
- Achieve no net loss of biodiversity by the end of the second road period (March 2025)
- Reduce its corporate carbon emissions in the second road period by 75%, compared to a 2017-18 baseline
- Bring network links identified by DEFRA’s pollution climate mapping model into compliance with legal limits in the shortest possible time
- Mitigate noise from 7,500 households in noise important areas during the second road period.
- As well as these four key performance requirements we scrutinise the company on four supporting environmental performance indicators:
- Supply chain carbon
- Condition of cultural heritage assets
- Water quality
- We report on these indicators and requirements in our annual assessment of National Highways’ performance. Further details on performance indicators are in National Highways’ Operational Metrics Manual.
- We also scrutinise National Highways’ delivery of the company’s designated funds programme. Its environmental and wellbeing fund supports many environmental objectives, such as biodiversity, flooding, and landscapes.
Road investment strategy activity (RIS3)
- The road investment strategy (RIS) is the government’s long-term strategy for the strategic road network.
- We advise government on the extent to which plans for the next road period achieve the right balance of being challenging and deliverable.
- We have consulted on and published our conclusions on ORR’s role and approach to RIS3, which will cover April 2025 to March 2030.
- RIS3 will be prepared in the context of the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan (Decarbonising Transport – A Better, Greener Britain) and National Highways’ Net Zero Highways.
- More generally, there is increasing focus on how the impacts of the strategic road network on the environment, health and communities can be improved.
- During the RIS3 process, it will be our role to advise government on future environmental performance requirements and targets.
National Highways has licence requirements to minimise the environmental impact of the network, protect and enhance the environment and adapt its network to operate in a changing climate. Further details are in National Highways’ Licence, paragraphs 4.2(g),(h) and 5.23 to 5.25.
Transparency and reporting
We report on these indicators and requirements in our annual assessment of National Highways’ performance. Further details on performance indicators are in National Highways’ Operational Metrics Manual.