Written statement to Parliament

Review of investigation/closure procedures for motorway incidents

Preliminary report on investigation and closure procedures for motorway incidents released.

Today, I am publishing the preliminary report on investigation and closure procedures for motorway incidents. The joint review carried out by my department, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Highways Agency (HA), and the Home Office, looked at what needs to be done to reduce the duration of motorway closure incidents and help keep our motorways moving. The report can be found on my department’s website and an electronic copy has been lodged with the House library.

As set out within my department’s business plan, the review supports this government’s vision for a transport system which is an engine for economic growth, and its commitment to tackling the causes of congestion and unreliability on the strategic road network.

Motorway closures in England costs the economy around £1 billion a year, which is an unacceptable brake on the country’s economic recovery. Tackling the causes of congestion and keeping traffic moving is a vital element in securing the UK’s prosperity.

As such, we completed a review of motorway closure incidents, to identify what improvements could be made to achieve the shortest timeline possible for managing such incidents.

The review led by this department makes ten recommendations, the delivery of which will ensure that there is overall improvement in the time taken to reopen motorways following an incident. The recommendations are contained within the report.

I am also announcing DfT funding of around £3 million for laser scanning technology that can be used by the police for surveying incident scenes. Recent trials by the police and HA have demonstrated that this can make a real difference in speeding up the investigation process. The £3 million will be used to set up a fund which police forces can bid from to put towards the purchase of this technology. The fund will take a match funding approach thereby potentially enabling a larger number of forces to purchase and use this equipment across the strategic road network and local road network.

Later today, I will be chairing a national summit with representatives from all key incident management parties to discuss the review’s findings, and to formally agree the high-level action plan on the way forward. The majority of the review’s recommendations are expected to be completed by the end of the year, and we remain on track to deliver on a further business plan commitment to set up and implement measures to reduce congestion caused by incidents by December 2012. I am confident that by having open dialogue and by continuing to work closely with the emergency services and colleagues across government in this collaborative manner, we can manage incidents effectively, efficiently and consistently.