Press releases

ORR beefs up scrutiny of National Highways’ plans for the next 5-year road period

4 May 2022
National Highways must provide high quality, detailed plans for how it will operate, maintain, and improve the Strategic Road Network between 2025 and 2030, says its independent monitor the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
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M62 near Scammonden reservoir

ORR considers this will reflect National Highways’ increased maturity as an arms-length government body, entering its third road period.

As development of the third road investment strategy (RIS3) moves a step forward, ORR has today (4 May 2022) set out how it is increasing the level of scrutiny it will apply to National Highways’ plans for the Government’s third road investment strategy (RIS3). This is in recognition of higher expectations on the company to deliver efficiently.

The road investment strategy is the Government’s long-term approach to the management and improvement of the Strategic Road Network – the motorways and major ‘A’ roads in England. RIS3 will set out plans for the third road period (2025 to 2030).

As part of its role in the development of RIS3, ORR will scrutinise National Highways’ plans and provide advice to government. This will help frame challenging and deliverable requirements for National Highways, making sure the company delivers in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

In respect of plans for maintaining and renewing the network, ORR will continue to focus on the quality of National Highways’ approach, its understanding of asset needs, and the way in which it plans to meet the challenge of an ageing asset base. 

For enhancement projects, ORR will strengthen its approach to understanding risks to delivery and expects National Highways to demonstrate that it has learnt positive lessons from its recent experiences of developing major projects.  

ORR will also advise government on performance requirements and targets in areas such as the environment and safety, to help ensure these can be achieved within the funding available. 

ORR’s approach follows a public consultation in December, with the full response and how ORR will undertake its duties published today.

Sneha Patel, Deputy Director of Highways at the Office of Rail and Road said:

“We play a central role in the process of developing each new road investment strategy and our work helps ensure government achieves the best value from its investment in the strategic road network.

“We expect the quality of National Highways’ plans to reflect its maturity as an arms-length government body entering its third road period. It must provide sufficient detail to enable us to assure government that the company can deliver in an efficient manner, and National Highways must provide a robust basis against which we can monitor its performance and efficiency. 

“Having set out our approach today, our oversight and scrutiny will ultimately lead to better outcomes for all those who use and are affected by the strategic road network.”

Notes to Editor

  1. The Office of Rail and Road is the independent monitor of National Highways – the government company responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England.
  2. RIS3 will cover the third road period, from April 2025 to March 2030. 
  3. ORR undertook a public consultation on our proposed approach to assessing the challenge and deliverability of plans for RIS3. ORR has today published the consultation response and updated its approach to scrutinising National Highways’ plans for RIS3.
  4. The document describes our approach to executing our duties in the RIS3 development process. It sets out how we will conduct our activities and the methods and evidence we intend to use to undertake our assessments. We also set out our expectations of the process more generally. In formulating our approach, we have considered aspects of the process that worked well, and less well, during the development of RIS2.