HC Deb 01 July 1997 vol 297 cc101-2
35. Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the future of the trunk roads programme as it affects East Sussex. [4698]

Dr. Strang

All trunk road schemes in East Sussex will be included in the review of the roads programme that I announced on 19 June. The Weald and Downland design, build, finance and operate scheme is being considered as part of the accelerated review of schemes requiring urgent decisions.

Mr. Baker

Does the Minister acknowledge that he inherited from the previous Government several environmentally destructive schemes that represent poor value for money, and that many Members welcome the Government's decision to carry out the roads review? Can he assure the House that the potential for transfer from road to rail will be taken into account in any review?

However, notwithstanding my previous comments, does the Minister recognise that, on the Polegate bypass, the Government would be unwise to throw the baby out with the bath water? It is important for a scheme of sorts to progress at Polegate because the county council has completed the A22 north of Eastbourne and, with only half the scheme completed, that would leave Polegate full of traffic.

Dr. Strang

I agree that, as part of the wider review, of course we need to consider the relative strengths of roads as opposed to rail and vice versa. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not expect me to prejudge in any way the outcome of our decisions on such schemes, but they are important, and I hope that he will welcome the fact that, where urgent decisions are required, we shall not allow our long-term review to hold things up. We are prepared to bite the bullet, and shall announce the decisions later this month.