§ Mr. Fearn
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the implications of the recently announced £12 billion road building programme for(a) atmospheric pollution levels, (b) the greenhouse effect, (c) existing sites of special scientific interest,(d) existing areas of outstanding natural beauty and(e) populations of native flora and fauna; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Atkins
The Government's road building programme will contribute to reducing pollution and CO2 emissions from vehicles by cutting down on congestion and removing traffic from unsuitable roads and communities.
Wherever possible, roads are kept away from protected areas such as sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty. When there is a risk that a proposed scheme will affect such an area it is examined with particular care to establish that a new or improved road is needed, and that the route has been chosen to do as little damage to the environment as possible. Every effort is made to blend the road into the landscape and to take all reasonable measures to minimise any adverse effects, including appropriate measures to preserve flora and fauna.
§ Mr. Atkins
Forecasts of traffic demand are an important, but not the only, factor in considering road schemes and programmes. There have always been cases where traffic demand could not be met for economic or environmental reasons. This was set out clearly in "Roads for Prosperity" (Cm. 693, May 1989), which stated in paragraph 27 thatit is not possible or economic to remove all congestion".The need for substantial investment on the major inter-urban network remains. This is the basis on which the expanded programme was drawn up. It remains the Government's judgment of what needs to be done.