HC Deb 18 June 1979 vol 968 cc883-4
3. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will review the standards for the construction of dual carriage roads in Wales so as to reduce the quantity of agricultural land required for this purpose.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Michael Roberts)

The Welsh Office pays great attention to economy in use of agricultural land when designing new road schemes, including those for dual carriageway roads. Road standards generally are also under continuous review by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, and I do not think a separate review is required in Wales.

Sir A. Meyer

Is my hon. Friend aware that unnecessarily high standards are being applied in the construction of these roads and that, for example, the north-west expressway, which is so badly needed, needs only to be able to carry traffic at a steady 50 mph, so that it is unnecessary to build it to the higher standards required for speeds of 70 mph? Is my hon. Friend further aware that vast amounts of land are being used up on ambitious cloverleaf junctions, such as the one proposed at the western end of the Holywell bypass? Is not this waste of land quite unjustified?

Mr. Michael Roberts

The protection of agricultural land is obviously an important objective of any road planner. We must also take into consideration the need to keep cars away from pedestrians and houses. Road safety is a most important consideration.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the Minister agree that Wales is crying out for better communications? Would it not be the height of folly to curb the road building programme? Will the hon. Gentleman make clear the Government's intentions in this matter?

Mr. Michael Roberts

My right hon. Friend has made it clear that he accords high priority to the building of new roads for economic development in North as well as South Wales. The Welsh Office programme is not affected by the reductions announced in the Budget Statement. Public expenditure programmes for next year and beyond have yet to be determined.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Will the Minister pay special regard to the standards of trunk road development in national parks? Is he aware that this issue is causing concern, not only among farmers but among environmental interests? Will he ensure that in future major road schemes within national parks blend into the landscape far more effectively?

Mr. Michael Roberts

That is the objective of the road planners. We shall do our best to come up to the hon. Member's expectations.