HC Deb 18 October 1972 vol 843 cc246-7
13 and 45. Mr. Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether the Countryside Commission and Peak Park Planning Board have been consulted in respect of the construction of the Sheffield to Manchester motorway; and what advice they have given;

(2) what plans by his Department exist for the construction of the Sheffield to Manchester motorway through the Peak District National Park; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Graham Page

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) on 9th August.—[Vol. 842, c. 437–9.]

Mr. Winterton

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. I appreciate the important commercial aspects of the proposed road, but does he not feel that those aspects have overidden the amenity interests? Furthermore, is he aware of the deep feelings, both locally and nationally, about the proposed route?

Mr. Page

Yes, indeed; we have had full discussions with the Peak Park Planning Board and with the Countryside Commission. Although I am well aware that they would prefer the road not to go through the national park, they think that this is the best route. I believe that great benefits are to be obtained from this route because it will relieve the other roads in the park and will concentrate traffic on one fairly sunken road through the nine miles of park in the best place at which we can landscape it.

Mr. Wainwright

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the M62 is too far away from Sheffield, that the heavy traffic which would go on the M62 still goes on the old roads, and that many of those roads are now more congested than they were and are certainly far more dangerous? Will he try to speed up the Sheffield-Manchester motorway?

Mr. Page

We must site the road carefully to see that we get the best landscape and the best environmental setting The hon. Gentleman is right to say that there is need for this road. The M62 does not take sufficient of the traffic for this connection.

Mr. Osborn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of those who live in the Peak Park will welcome the fact that this road is to go north of the Peak Park and not through the middle, namely on a Chesterfield-Bakewell-Peak Forest route, which was at one time considered? Will he give some indication about the degree of consideration given to that route, bearing in mind that it would have gone through the middle of the Peak Park near to the place in which I happen to live?

Mr. Page

I can assure my hon. Friend that the fact he lives on that route did not influence us. We considered a number of routes. The one that was chosen through the Longdendale Valley contains major road and rail routes, a reservoir and a line of pylons. I think that we can concentrate traffic within an area which will cause less damage to the park.

Mr. Mulley

I endorse the decision to construct a road on this route and welcome the Minister's statement—a statement which is not widely appreciated—that it will add to the amenity of the park area and will take away traffic from the lesser roads. Could the right hon. Gentleman give the date when he intends to hold a public inquiry and to come to a firm decision on the matter, because in the interim period some of the arguments have gone far away from the point at issue.

Mr. Page

I cannot give that information today, but if the right hon. Gentleman tables a Question on this matter I shall see whether I can answer it.