Andrew Boswell

Exposing the flaws in carbon assessment and transport modelling for road schemes.
Roger Harrabin

Focus of work

In the planning system, road user carbon emissions are computed from a traffic model including the scheme, foreseeable land based developments, other roads schemes, and national assumptions on economic growth. However, only a fraction of this carbon, based on the difference between model outputs with and without the road, is taken forward to assessment. As only a small fraction of the total transport footprint, this quantity does not account for cumulative effects of other developments, and significantly under-represents the real impacts. This way of calculating road use carbon is a misleading method where every scheme “passes” the carbon test even if emissions are significant; it also does not comply with the EIA Regulations which require assessment of cumulative environmental impacts.

Andrew Boswell has been researching and investigating several current road schemes within the DCO planning process of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) program, as an interested party, and making submissions challenging the rigour of the carbon calculations and their compliance with the EIA Regulations. These include three A47 dualling schemes in Norfolk, the A38 Derby, A417, and A57. The fellowship will distill this experience into new technical and legal arguments, and produce a report for transport, legal and planning professionals on the issues.


The technical and legal issues in these road planning cases are complex. The report aims to make the material as accessible as possible for local community groups to enable them to strongly challenge roads on carbon, and traffic modelling, grounds and give them the confidence and tools to do so. Andrew seeks to provide a framework with illustrative examples/case studies, and to develop charts and figures that make the work usable for other schemes. The research has the potential to change how carbon emissions, including cumulative impacts, are assessed at the planning consent stage, both for NSIPs and large local major schemes. It may also help with legal challenges against road schemes based on climate change.


Andrew is an independent scientist and environmental consultant, and has worked at the intersection of science, policy, and law, on climate change as a consultancy called Climate Emergency Policy and Planning (CEPP) for several years. He is an expert contributor to the proposed UK Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. He is an environmental campaigner of many years experience, and was a Green Party councillor on Norfolk County Council between 2005 and 2017.

Previously, he ran the high-performance computer service at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and supported the university’s scientific research community in running models, across a range of sciences, on a small supercomputer – advising several generations of PhD and post-doctoral research students, and professors and research leaders on system and architectural issues of modelling, programming, forensic fault finding. This included supporting scientists running climate models in UEA’s esteemed Environmental Science department.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he was involved in the software engineering, and testing, of modelling and simulation systems for the high-level design and logic synthesis of Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits. He originally studied chemistry (first degree) and structural biology, protein binding sites and dynamics, for his doctorate.

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