HC Deb 16 January 1984 vol 52 cc7-8
6. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Transport which is the last section of the London orbital M25 motorway planned for completion; and what is the latest estimated date of its completion.

Mrs. Chalker

The last section will be Micklefield Green to South Mimms. Estimated completion date is autumn 1986.

Mr. Chapman

I welcome the fact that the Government have made the construction of a London orbital motorway a priority scheme, and I welcome the progress made so far. However, is my hon. Friend still reasonably confident that the final section can be completed in under three years, given the present state of progress? Also, has any estimate been made of likely congestion on the existing roads in the area of the last section? Unless careful plans are made for distributing the traffic, there will be considerable congestion.

Mrs. Chalker

I understand my hon. Friend's concern, but I hope that, whatever the results of the public inquiries, it will be possible to complete the road by autumn 1986. While the final section is under construction we shall signpost roads to direct traffic in such a way as to use the trunk roads to best advantage and avoid congestion of unsuitable roads in the area. I shall ensure that that matter receives the close attention of the Department in the latter part of 1986, before the M25 is brought fully into use.

Mr. Dubs

What is the Minister's assessment of the effect of the London orbital motorway on existing main roads in the London area? Will not conditions on the north circular road, Archway road and the south circular road be significantly improved by the construction of the orbital motoway, even if no improvements are made to those roads themselves?

Mrs. Chalker

There is no doubt that the M25 London orbital road will make a significant difference to that traffic not needing to come within its bounds. There is no doubt also that a great deal of traffic inevitably has to come in to some part of the centre for the 9 million of us who live in London. It is sensible that in whatever plans the Department puts forward it takes close note of which roads are suitable and what improvements are necessary, not just to have a free flow of traffic, but to prevent residents being unduly disturbed by traffic which should not be on residential roads.

Mr. Jessel

When will the whole of the M25 south-western sector, consisting of three more contracts — Reigate-Leatherhead, the Leatherhead interchange and the Leatherhead-Wisley interchange — be open? When all three are open, they will give substantial relief to my constitutents.

Mrs. Chalker

The Leatherhead-Wisley section will open in the autumn this year. The Leatherhead interchange and the Reigate-Leatherhead section will open in spring 1985, all being well.

Mr. Cartwright

Does the Minister accept that the M25's effectiveness in the south-east will be undermined by the decision to maintain tolls for the Dartford tunnel? In view of the strong views of county councils and other local authorities in the area, will the Government reconsider their decision not to take the Dartford tunnel into the trunk road network?

Mrs. Chalker

That is a much wider matter. The Dartford tunnels were built with the full consent of the Essex and Kent authorities which now administer them. I know that many people would like toll-free tunnels, but there is no doubt that the tunnels give an advantage, and that advantage must be paid for. I am not in a position to give the hon. Gentleman any assurance that the Dartford tunnel will be made toll-free. The Government are spending an additional £15 million to streamline the system through the Dartford tunnel by the provision of new approach roads and toll plazas. That will be beneficial to all travellers on the M25, regardless of the tolls.