HC Deb 13 April 1999 vol 329 cc15-7
14. Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

If he will make a statement on road links to Manchester International airport. [78829]

The Minister for Transport in London (Ms Glenda Jackson)

We propose to begin a multi-modal study in spring, assessing the transport problems around Manchester airport and the area to the south-east of Manchester.

Mr. Winterton

Will the Minister tell us whether she is aware that support for the second runway at Manchester airport was given because it was indicated by Government that the appropriate infrastructure to serve the airport, not least the road infrastructure, which includes the Macclesfield to Poynton road improvement, the MAELR road—the Manchester airport eastern link road—and the Poynton bypass, would proceed in a priority programme? Will the Minister come to my constituency to see the increasing devastation arising from increased traffic anticipating the second runway at Manchester airport, so that my constituents are aware that this Government are prepared to take responsibility for a decision that a Government of this country took, and will not allow the environment of the villages of Poynton, Mottram St. Andrew and Prestbury to be eroded, as is happening now?

Ms Jackson

I should dearly love to visit the hon. Gentleman's constituency, but think that it is highly unlikely that I shall have the time to do so in the immediate future. He spoke of the "appropriate infrastructure", which is precisely what the Government are committed to discovering. We must get away from the idea—the previous Administration were beginning to move away from it—that the only appropriate form of infrastructure is exclusively that which is solely dependent on roads. That is not sustainable, either economically or environmentally.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Does my hon. Friend accept that far too many people still have to approach Manchester airport—particularly those who work there—by private car, and that it would be far better if the Government could give priority to getting the tramway system, which is doing so well in Greater Manchester, extended to the airport?

Ms Jackson

The Metrolink issue has been raised by the Greater Manchester passenger transport authority with both my right hon. Friends and me. We are perfectly willing to listen to the authority's arguments on the matter. The responsibility for the matter is the authority's, and dealing with it must be part and parcel of its local integrated transport plans.

Mr. Stephen Day (Cheadle)

Is the Minister aware—from her comments to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), I take it that she is not—that a third of the Manchester airport eastern link road and the Poynton bypass already exists, but that it does not join the airport and does not go anywhere in the east? I hardly think that it is asking a lot of the Minister to consider coming to my hon. Friend's constituency and to Cheadle to see for herself that that road, which is very much a reality in the centre, should be connected to those parts of the infrastructure in the north-west that it was intended originally to serve.

Ms Jackson

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not take the opportunity to apologise for the previous Administration, who have clearly left a third of a road going absolutely nowhere. As I told the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), we shall start a multi-modal study in the spring.

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