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Volume 15: debated on Monday 14 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure that officials of his Department co-operate with the principal objectors to the proposed M40 in the evaluation of alternative solutions to a new motorway; and if he will undertake to consult the relevant statutory bodies about selected alternatives of this kind before any public inquiry.

My officials will be available to meet any objector on request to explain the proposals, discuss his objection and, where appropriate, provide such relevant additional information as is available. If alternative solutions are put forward, interested bodies and persons will be consulted as necessary, I cannot agree, however, to allow unlimited staff time and public expenditure to be incurred in engineering and economic appraisals of every alternative suggested by objectors. We will, of course, evaluate alternative solutions to the extent necessary to enable the public inquiry to consider them properly.