HC Deb 29 March 1972 vol 834 cc410-2
12. Dr. Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will take steps to enable an early start on the construction of the section of the M18 motorway between Hatfield and the West Moor interchange.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

My right hon. Friend yesterday announced his decision on the whole section of the motorway from Hatfield to Wadworth. Construction will be undertaken as soon as practicable.

Dr. Marshall

How soon will fresh proposals be published for the trunk road link between West Moor interchange on the M18 and the existing A18 trunk road?

Mr. Heseltine

We are looking at this and will publish the details as soon as we can, following yesterday's announcement.

16. Mr. Cockeram

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is aware of the fact that the mileage of new motorways opened in the three years 1969, 1970 and 1971 was over 50 per cent, greater than the mileage expected to be opened in the three years 1972, 1973 and 1974; and if he will now authorise an early start on further construction in order to avoid a rundown in this industry.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

There is no prospect of a rundown in the road construction industry. On the contrary public spending on the new construction and improvement of roads is expected to increase significantly in the coming financial year, as will be seen from the Supply Estimates 1972–73.

Mr. Cockeram

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that the gestation period of a motorway is longer than that of an elephant and that the dramatic drop in the construction programme and completions planned over the next three years is causing dismay to the motoring public?

Mr. Heseltine

That presumably is why we do not call them trunk roads. [Laughter.] I can assure my hon. Friend that we are well aware of all the complexities of preparing schemes. That is why we prepare sufficient so that we have enough to be getting on with whatever difficulties we come across.

23. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has made of the cost of building motorways from the Midlands to the Ports of Hull, Grimsby, Felixstowe, Harwich and Southampton.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

Road schemes already under construction or in preparation will provide a network of modern high standard routes connecting the Midlands with these ports at a cost of some £300 million. As my right hon. Friend announced last week, action is in hand to accelerate schemes of key importance for access to the major East Coast ports as well as motorway schemes connecting Coventry and Leicester and Birmingham and Nottingham.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply, but will he realise that it is of crucial importance to Midlands industry, especially when we join the European Economic Community, that it should have quick and easy access not only to the East Coast ports but also to those in the Humber estuary?

Mr. Heseltine

That is why we made the statement we did last week.

Dr. Stuttaford

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the need for linking Norwich to the East Coast ports, not only those listed in the Question but Yarmouth and Lynn as well?

Mr. Heseltine

I realise the importance of these ports to that area and I am delighted to confirm to my hon. Friend that I shall be visiting Norwich to discuss the matter further next month.

30. Mr. Harold Walker

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated cost of making the Hatfield to Wadworth section of the M18 motorway.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

About £14 million.

Mr. Walker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the decision his right hon. Friend announced yesterday that the M18 motorway will cleave its way through the residential part of the Borough of Doncaster instead of bypassing the town, for no other reason than to save money, has caused deep dismay in our town? The decision is treated as a prime piece of ministerial madness. Does it not mock and defy all the Minister's repeated statements about his concern for safeguarding the environment?

Mr. Heseltine

All these matters were carefully considered at a public inquiry, and my right hon. Friend took his decision in the light of all the circumstances.