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Exeter Airport

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 25 June 2009

1. What recent assessment the Secretary of State has made of the adequacy of road links to Exeter airport; and if he will make a statement. (282098)

First, Mr. Speaker, may I congratulate you on your appointment as Speaker of the House? The Ministers in the Department for Transport look forward to working with you on the business.

On 6 May, the Department gave outline investment approval for £12 million towards the east of Exeter phase 2 improvements. Measures include improving the junction access to Exeter airport. This investment was agreed after assessing the transport conditions in the immediate and wider area, and reflecting proposed development opportunities.

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer. Improving road connections to the airport is all very well, but, given the Government’s stated commitment to a high-speed rail network and the desire of the airport to become carbon-neutral by 2015, what additional resources can the Government make available to local councils to ensure a reduction in carbon emissions and congestion resulting from airport traffic?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Department for Transport’s overriding goals are to deal with congestion and with climate change. We have imposed strict rules in relation to climate change, and they are monitored independently. The work that needs to be done at local level to ensure joined-up thinking on business and housing development and on transport requirements is part of the regional funding allocations process. We have more than doubled the money that is going into local transport provision.

The Minister ought also to consider the road network to the west of Exeter, as well as the way in which Exeter airport serves the south Devon economy and the need for investment in road infrastructure—most notably the A380 Kingskerswell bypass.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that there is always a need to look across a region to examine demand, the economy, proposed developments and the transport infrastructure. We know the importance of having a good transport infrastructure, be it for people travelling to and from work, for businesses moving their goods or for people visiting those businesses’ headquarters in order to trade. That is why the Department has been undertaking processes to give powers and responsibilities to regions and local areas so that they can prioritise their requirements within a given region.