HC Deb 20 June 1988 vol 135 cc827-8
3. Mr. Couchman

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what efforts his Department takes to ensure that new roads are designed to be environmentally sensitive.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

We minimise the impact of new roads on the environment by careful design. We fit schemes into the landscape, plant tress and screen traffic. We take special measures to protect wildlife.

Mr. Couchman

My hon. Friend will know of the laudable financial commitment of Kent county council, Gillingham borough council, the city council of Rochester and Medway, English Estates and the Rochester bridge trust to a new relief road running round the north side of the Medway towns. When his Department considers this proposal, will he recognise that the environmentally sensitive answer to crossing the Medway is a tunnel rather than a high-level bridge? Will he commit his Department to such a crossing, even if it is more expensive initially?

Mr. Bottomley

I hope that we will get a touch of private funding for the Medway crossing. That has been a tradition in the past. Of course, we shall take environmental considerations strongly into account. As today is the birthday of Professor Bell of Kew, of Professor Southwood the zoologist, and of my hon. Friend the Minister of State who leads the Department in "Transport and the Environment", we will take that very much to heart.

Mr. Alfred Morris

The Minister recently had a deputation about the urgency of the need to improve road communications between Manchester and Sheffield. Is there anything that he can say about action to be taken on an issue of so much importance to both cities and to the north's gateway airport in Manchester?

Mr. Bottomley

As I said to the right hon. Gentleman at our meeting, we want to improve the top road, and there are great worries about any proposals in the national park.

Mr. Hanley

In expressing my gratitude to my hon. Friend for his original answer, and for the birthday greeting to my excellent constituent, Professor Bell, may I also mention a serious matter to him? The surface that is eventually put on the roads, especially motorways, in Britain, has a great bearing on the subsequent noise emissions from those roads. Does he insist on the quietest possible road surface, or does money come into the argument?

Mr. Bottomley

No, and yes.