Drivers to get better views of monuments

National Highways said it wants to protect and enhance heritage assets adjacent to England’s motorways and major A roads.

People enjoying the sunshine at Penshaw Monument, near Sunderland
People enjoying the sunshine at Penshaw Monument, near Sunderland

Drivers will have better views of monuments under new plans to boost the green credentials of England’s busiest roads.

National Highways said it wants to protect and enhance heritage assets adjacent to motorways and major A roads.

This includes improving the visibility and accessibility of historically significant sites, and providing more information to road users about the features of areas they are travelling through.

Details of locations will be provided on notice boards in laybys and service station areas.

Heritage assets which have already benefited from National Highways’ support in recent years include: Penshaw Monument, which is visible from the A19 in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear; Wellington Monument, which can be seen from the M5 in Somerset; and the gatehouse in Stover Country Park, which is next to the A38 in Devon.

AA president Edmund King told the PA news agency improving access to monuments “enhances road safety”.

He said: “Viewing monuments close to main roads can break up the monotony of long drives and give car occupants the chance to take a break.

“A quarter of fatal crashes are sleep-related, so drowsiness is one of the most under-estimated risks on the roads.

“It is crucial we know how to manage tiredness in relation to driving.

“The better-kept monuments on main roads often give drivers and families a chance to stop off, which can be beneficial.”

The plan to boost heritage sites is part of National Highways’ environmental sustainability strategy, which also includes commitments to use its land to reconnect habitats, reverse declines in biodiversity, support the increase in zero-emission vehicles and develop new ways of reducing pollution.

This could feature methods such as erecting solar panels on noise barriers, introducing wetlands for natural flood management, and building more green bridges which allow wildlife to move between two sides of a carriageway.

National Highways acknowledged that some parts of its network – which has been developed over 60 years – has caused “severance issues for nearby communities, fragmented important habitats, altered our waterways, and affected the natural characteristic of the surrounding landscape”.

Vehicles using its roads are “contributing to our nation’s carbon emissions and generating noise, air and water pollution that affects community health and wellbeing, and the quality of the local environment”, a document outlining the environmental sustainability strategy stated.

It added that it has “taken action to address these issues” but pledged to deliver “far greater environmental enhancements”.

National Highways chief executive Nick Harris said: “Most journeys will still be made by road in 2050 so it is more important than ever that we manage our network in a way that balances the needs of today with those of tomorrow.

“This is why we are passionate about making our network as environmentally sustainable as it can be.

“From the air that we breathe to the natural resources that we use to create and innovate – our economy, health and wellbeing depend upon a thriving environment.

“With 4,500 miles of motorways and major A roads, we are uniquely placed to play an active and positive role in achieving this, ensuring that our network can be a force for good.”

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