DfT moots major changes to WebTAG


The Department for Transport (DfT) is proposing major changes to its transport scheme appraisal guidance - known as WebTAG - with plans to make the system more flexible and to integrate wider economic analysis.

Officials have launched a consultation on the proposed changes, which are the result of a two year review with input from academic experts and stakeholders, including Transport for the North (TfN).

Devon CC is proposing improvements to the A30/A303

The WebTAG appraisal and modelling guidance sets out the DfT's evidence base for understanding and valuing the impacts of transport investments.

This include wider economic benefits , which are the ‘the additional benefits (or disbenefits) that can arise as the impact of transport improvements is transmitted into the wider economy, beyond those businesses and passengers that are directly affected by the transport change’.

The DfT aims to produce updated guidance that is robust and based on the best available evidence and ‘improves the clarity of methodologies and explanations’.

The main changes are:

  • A new requirement for scheme promoters to produce a context specific economic narrative that sets out the transmissions mechanisms through which transport investment will impact the economy and achieve the stated economic objectives.
  • Greater clarity on the relationship between the measures of benefits used in appraisal (welfare) and economic metrics such as GDP or GVA and employment.
  • A stronger focus on additionality and displacement in the analysis and reporting of economic impacts.
  • Greater flexibility to use new modelling and valuation approaches to supplement standard appraisal methods.
  • Regeneration impacts have been integrated into the assessment of wider economic impacts.

At Surveyor’s Highways Management conference this week, TfN’s strategic road network director, Peter Molyneux, revealed that the body was working with the DfT to improve WebTAG’s modelling of wider economic benefits.

Ian Palmer, TfN’s head of strategic analysis and appraisal, told Transport Network: ‘The Northern Transport Strategy, published jointly between TfN and government in March 2015, recognised that TfN will need a scheme assessment process that reflects our remit to boost growth and we have been working with DfT and the national agencies on what this will mean in practice.’


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