The coalition will reveal in this year’s Autumn Statement whether it plans “to go further” with a scheme for “new ownership and financing model for the national road network”.
Osborne said he would be “learning lessons from the water industry”, which was privatised by Margaret Thatcher in the late 1980s and is currently under fire for failing to prepare for the current dry conditions, resulting in a hosepipe ban.
He also said Alan Cook’s recommendations will be taken further. Cook, the chairman of the Highways Agency, said in a green paper in November that the road network should be run on a more commercial basis.
While Prime Minister David Cameron promised earlier in the week that no tolls will be imposed on existing roads, the Budget did not include this pledge.
“Any proposals for roads now being brought forward which result in higher direct or indirect costs to businesses, private motorists and tax payers in general will be seen as a call-to-arms by many groups unwilling or unable to afford higher motoring costs,” warned AECOM’s transport director Howard Blessington.