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Strategic National Transport Corridors

Volume 515: debated on Thursday 16 September 2010

I am publishing today, 16 September, a consultation paper on proposals to amend the criteria defining strategic national corridors (SNCs). This will result in the identification of roads, including the Al between Newcastle and the Scottish border, as being of national significance.

The strategic national corridors were established in 2009 to define the network over which the largest proportion of strategic traffic—that is traffic travelling between the 10 largest urban areas, 10 busiest ports and seven busiest airports in England—moves around the country. The original definition also provided for connectivity between the four nations of the United Kingdom, but there was no specific provision for connecting capital cities.

The Government believe that the routes linking Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to the nearest urban strategic destination should be recognised for the strategic connectivity that they provide. For this reason I am today launching a consultation on proposals to change the definition, to explicitly include links with our capital cities.

As a result of this change we believe that two routes would be identified as having national significance: namely the Al between its junction with the A19 north of Newcastle, and the Scottish border, providing a defined link to Edinburgh; and a route between Bootle and the Twelve Quays ferry terminal in Birkenhead, providing connectivity with Belfast. We have also set out information about alternatives to these routes which I invite consultees to consider. Routes linking the network with Cardiff were identified in 2009.

The consultation does not include any specific proposals to increase the capacity of these routes. However, the Department is considering the nature of the problems on the Al north of Newcastle so that, as part of the spending review, Ministers will be in a position to consider these alongside other priorities in identifying those schemes and programmes that it will be proceeding with, consistent with resources available and the Government’s objectives.

I am pleased to announce that the consultation will run for a period of 12 weeks, and invite everybody with an interest in the roads potentially affected to take part. A consultation document and instructions for responding can be found on the Department’s website and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.