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Trunk Road Schemes

Volume 979: debated on Wednesday 20 February 1980

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asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the criteria which he is using in his review of trunk road schemes.

The criteria include economic return, importance to industrial traffic, environmental impact, how the schemes accord with the Government's regional policies, and the views of local people.

I thank my hon. Friend for his helpful answer. Bearing in mind that no Minister can ever be as generous with road expenditure as he would like, may I ask whether my hon. Friend can indicate that he will not be cheeseparing about the preparation pool, particularly when he considers the deserving cases of roads that lead to major industrial sites, ports and nuclear power stations such as the road from the M60 to Heysham?

We shall look at any reasonable suggestions for additions to the preparation pool, but our immediate problem is the marshalling of priorities among the 400 schemes in the present road programme. I am aware of the pressure to trunk the route into Heysham, which my hon. Friend and others often press, and we shall look at any scheme that is put forward. I should not like to hold out any false hopes that there is a likelihood in the near future that national funds will be committed to the improvement of that local route.

Given the Minister's own criteria, how can he justify abandoning the Dishforth-Leeds motorway link, which is essential for traffic travelling from the North-East to Lancashire?

We have not abandoned it. We have abandoned the inquiry, which was too closely directed to improvements in the existing A1, which are the least important parts of the improvements needed there. We have every intention of proceeding as quickly as possible with the design of the new link from the M1 to the A1, and fresh proposals will be published as soon as possible indicating the route to the east of Leeds.

Bearing in mind the criteria that my hon. Friend has just enumerated, does he agree that when the Government make a majority policy decision, for example to build a nuclear power station, they should take more account of the impact that it will have on the citizens of the area and should will the means to make the project a success by providing proper access to it?

I am aware that the new power station is a factor to be taken into account, and we look at all relevant factors in assessing how much a road is part of the national network. Essentially, the discussion is about whether it should be paid for as part of the national trunk road scheme or financed as a local authority scheme. We have to assess the needs of Heysham and that part of Lancashire on the basis of the same criteria that we apply to the rest of the country.