HL Deb 25 July 1991 vol 531 cc875-6

Lord Hunt asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are their proposals for upgrading and extending existing roads in the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty to connect the M.4, the M.25 and the M.40 with the intended strategic road between Harwich and Felixstowe and the M.40, which is referred to in the Department of Transport report Trunk Roads, England—Into the 1990's.

The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, we have no road proposals for connecting those motorways with the planned east-west trunk route between the M.40 and the Haven ports of Felixstowe and Harwich.

A study, announced in the White Paper, Roads for Prosperity, is to be undertaken into possible traffic demand for a link between the M.3 and M.40 to the west of the M.25. We have no preconceived ideas about the need for such a link or, if need is established, the route that one might take.

Lord Hunt

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer, which is a great relief to me. Is he aware that in the document referred to on the Order Paper there are proposals for upgrading those roads through the Chilterns? If those proposals were to be developed, does he agree that they would greatly increase the volume of traffic in a small AONB, causing continuing pollution by noise and fumes? Does he further agree that it would have the effect of dividing this small AONB—the particular value and importance of which is its proximity and accessibility to London and other areas—into three parts? I hope that that situation will be fully borne in mind should those proposals be developed.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I can reassure the noble Lord that his concerns will be borne in mind if such a proposal reaches the light of day. As I indicated in my original Answer, a possible route between the M.3 and M.40 is a long way off. The Haven ports-M.40 route is much further advanced. That might possibly have a small impact on one particular part of the AONB, but that is known about.

Lord Renton

My Lords, is it not helpful to know that the Government's acceptance of the European directive on the environmental assessment will be of great importance and assistance when road plans of such o major kind are being made?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, any new proposals as predicated in this Question will, of course, be the subject of a full environmental impact assessment.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, will the Minister assure the House that the Government will make a rather better fist of defending essential interests, including environmental ones, than they did in relation to the Naseby battlefield?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the Naseby battlefield is a completely different issue, on which environmental considerations won.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, as one who lives in the district named by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, I congratulate the Minister and thank him warmly for his Answer, which will be warmly welcomed throughout the district.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend.

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

My Lords, will the Minister explain why there is only one service and rest area on the whole of the M.25 and none on the M.40?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I wish that there were facilities on the M.40. Unfortunately, we have just had planning permission for one service area turned down.

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