HC Deb 23 June 1971 vol 819 cc288-92W
Mr. John Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about his plans for the future trunk road programme.

Mr. Peter Walker

I have now completed my review of inter-urban road needs and I am today adding £500 million worth of major schemes to the preparation pool of motorways and trunk roads.

In selecting these schemes, which are listed below, I have had in mind the totality of my responsibilities for the environment and in particular the following six aims:

  1. 1. to achieve environmental improvements by diverting long-distance traffic, and particularly heavy goods vehicles, from a large number of towns and villages, so as to relieve them of the 289 noise, dirt and danger which they suffer at present;
  2. 2. to complete by the early 1980s a comprehensive network of strategic trunk routes to promote economic growth;
  3. 3. to link the more remote and less prosperous regions with this new national network;
  4. 4. to ensure that every major city and town with a population of more than 250,000 will be directly connected to the strategic network and that all with a population of more than 80,000 will be within about 10 miles of it;
  5. 5. to design the network so that it serves all major ports and airports, including the new Third London Airport at Foulness; and
  6. 6. to relieve as many historic towns as possible of through trunk traffic.

The Government have given especially sympathetic consideration to the traffic relief of historic towns. The network of strategic routes and the individual improvements planned will benefit almost all the historic towns listed by the Council for British Archaeology and which are on trunk roads. The C.B.A. list includes 105 historic towns which are on trunk roads. Of these, 84 will have been relieved of through traffic by the early 1980s either by the planned network or by individual schemes already announced. Many other historic towns, although not on the trunk road network, will nevertheless benefit from the diversion of traffic on to the main strategic routes. Through trunk traffic is, of course, only one cause of urban congestion and due weight will also be given to the needs of historic areas when considering future principal road schemes which local authorities may propose.

The proposals are also designed to cater for the needs of the less prosperous regions. These areas of special concern will benefit both from the new roads within their boundaries and from the whole of the new network. By the early 1980s high quality roads will link all the major industrial centres in the development areas to the primary network.

By the end of 1972 there will be about 1,000 miles of motorway in England and Wales. There will also be nearly 1,000 miles of all-purpose dual-carriageway trunk roads. But much remains to be done. The total number of vehicles on the roads is expected to rise from 15 million at present to about 22 million by 1980. The plans I have announced today are designed to meet this challenge.

Including the £500 million worth of schemes listed below, there are now no less than £2,300 million worth of motorway and other trunk road schemes programmed, in preparation or subject to feasibility studies. These will be processed as quickly as possible so that by 1980 we shall be well on our way to completing a primary network of about 3,500 miles of high quality strategic trunk routes, of which about 2,000 miles will be motorway. At the same time, many improvements will be made to those sections of other trunk roads which most need relief. Nearly £200 million worth of such individual schemes are among those programmed and in preparation.

My general objective will be to finish this comprehensive programme, subject to the normal process of economic appraisal, early in the 1980s.

This network will be continuous and, subject only to the decisions we have still to take about the trunk road network in the vicinity of a very few towns where special studies are in hand, it will be possible to drive direct from one point on the network to any other entirely on high-standard trunk roads.

The precise time-span for the total programme will be kept under careful review and will reflect the future level of resources which the Government judge it right to commit to investment in roads as compared with other public expenditure programmes.

The choice of schemes for preparation has taken full account of the views of the National Ports Council. Priorities within the programme will reflect the Government's aim to provide adequate access to the major docks well within the time-span for the whole programme and in most cases by the mid-1970s. Many road schemes which will serve this purpose are already programmed or in preparation, but in those few cases where the schemes already in hand are considered insufficient to give direct access I am today inviting the local authorities concerned to put forward their proposals for inclusion in the preparation list.

A few of the routes which have been selected for comprehensive improvement may not justify improvement to dual-carriageway standard throughout by the early 1980s. The Government are, however, convinced of the importance of improving all the routes selected and, rather than defer their improvement until dual carriageway can be justified throughout, high standard single carriageways will be provided initially on a few routes, with bypasses and lengths of dual carriageway where necessary.

I expect to announce a further instalment of schemes for inclusion in the preparation pool in about two years' time. I shall keep the needs of inter-urban traffic under consideration and shall maintain enough flexibility to allow for future planning developments. A programme of special studies is being set in hand to assess the need, location and priority of further trunk road schemes to be carried out in the early 1980s.

The schemes that I have today added to the preparation pool and the new route studies I am initiating are listed below:

  • A64—Scarborough to Staxton.
  • A66—Scotch Corner to Penrith.
  • A66—Stockton-Thornaby Diversion.
  • A696—Kenton to Ponteland.
  • A41—Whitchurch to Chester.
  • A483—Chester Southern Bypass to Welsh Border.
  • A49 (A51)—Tarporley Bypass.
  • A51—Chester to Tarvin.
  • A54—Kelsall Bypass.
  • A59—Mellor Brook to Whalley.
  • A59—Liverpool to Preston.
  • A1079—Market Weighton Bypass.
  • Al9—Barlby Bypass.
  • A19—Riccall Bypass.
  • A6120—Leeds Outer Ring Road improvement (A64 to Shadwell Lane).
  • A63/A614—Link west of Howden.
  • A64—Scagglethorpe Diversion.
  • A646—Todmorden to Hebden Bridge.
  • A646—Mytholmroyd to Luddenden Foot.
  • A65—Ilkley Bypass.
  • A41—Junction A41 /A464 to Wolverhampton.
  • A449—
  • Waresley Bypass to Wolverhampton.
  • Alcester to Warwick.
  • A49—Ross-on-Wye to Whitchurch.
  • A5—
  • Shrewsbury to Welsh Border at Chirk.
  • Junction M54/M6 to Brownhills.
  • A17/A47—Newark to Norwich.
  • A46—Newark Relief Road.
  • A57—Worksop Inner Relief Road.
  • A606—Junction A46/A606 to Nottingham.
  • A61—Alfreton to Chesterfield.
  • *M1 near Northampton to Al.
  • A10—Ely Bypass.
  • A11—Stump Cross (M11) to Norwich.
  • A12—Wrentham to Lowestoft.
  • A45—West of Cambridge to Ipswich.
  • 292
  • A30—Okehampton to Bodmin Bypass.
  • A30—Bodmin Bypass to Camborne/Redruth Bypass.
  • A30-A303—M3 to Honiton.
  • A31—Bere Regis Bypass.
  • A38—Plymouth Outer Ring Road.
  • A38—Saltash to Bodmin Bypass.
  • A39—Camelford Bypass.
  • A39—Bideford Bypass.
  • A40—Oxford to Ross-on-Wye.
  • *M1 near Luton to M11 south of Bishop's Stortford.
  • Ringway 3 to Foulness.
  • North Orbital Road from A41 to Al.
  • A27—Polegate to Pevensey.
  • A30—Staines to Greater London Boundary.
  • A31—Cadnam to Ringwood.
  • A34—Newbury to Winchester.
  • A41—A405 to Berrygrove Junction (M1).
  • A41—Aston Clinton Bypass.
  • A5—Diversion between north of Stoney Stratford and south of Fenny Stratford.

*These routes will be subject to feasibility studies initially to determine their location.

Some of the routes contain a number of schemes already programmed or in preparation. The remaining sections of these routes will now be tackled to provide a comprehensive improvement of the whole route. Studies are to be undertaken on the following routes: Brighton-Dover; Bristol-Southampton; Swindon-Milton Keynes, Birmingham West Orbital. It is planned to announce later this year trunk road schemes for preparation within the G.L.C. area.

I am placing in the Vote Office maps illustrating the effect of the plans that I have announced.