HC Deb 23 June 1976 vol 913 cc1579-81
5. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will report on his conversations with the South Yorkshire County Council concerning the proposed motorway (M67) through the Peak District National Park.

The Minister for Transport (Dr. John Gilbert)

My right hon. Friend has had no such specific conversations. When I met the county council in early April, the possibility of improving communications between Manchester and Sheffield was one of a number of subjects discussed. No conclusions were reached.

Mr. Hooley

I am very glad that no conclusions were reached, and also not entirely surprised, since there are sharp differences of opinion on the county council. Does my hon. Friend agree that he would not particularly want to enjoy the political notoriety of being the first Minister of Transport in 30 years to drive a motorway through a national park?

Dr. Gilbert

I assure my hon. Friend that I am seized of the political, environmental and economic considerations that surround this decision. I further assure him that no decision has yet been taken on the question whether a new road is needed at all, let alone the route, if it were to be decided to have a road.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that many people think that the present road system between Sheffield and Manchester is too dangerous for traffic to use? Will he therefore give further thought to the construction of a motorway between Sheffield and Manchester? When the road is being planned, will he make certain that there is a service station somewhere along it, so that people will be encouraged to drive to it and then go on planned routes around the moors, in order to see the beautiful countryside?

Dr. Gilbert

My hon. Friend's comments bear out those of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) that there is considerable controversy attaching to this route. I am aware that some sections of it are particularly difficult, such as those around Stocksbridge and Deepcar, which I visited in April. As my hon. Friends will appreciate, however, it is not sensible to consider separately certain elements of the route before arriving at a final view about the overall question.