HC Deb 24 November 1994 vol 250 c262W
Sir David Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his Department's standard for the desirable distance between service stations on M roads and other major routes.

Mr. Watts

This is an operational matter for the Highways Agency. I have asked the chief executive to write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Sir David Mitchell, dated 24 November 1994: Your Parliamentary Question about the spacing of services on motorways and other major routes is a matter for the Highways Agency. It has therefore been passed to me for reply. Until 1992 the Department of Transport was itself responsible for promoting new MSAs, and its policy was to provide them at intervals of around thirty miles, or half an hour's driving time, throughout the motorway network. Following criticism that this policy was not delivering MSAs quickly enough, particularly on the more recently completed motorways such as the M25 and M40, Ministers announced a new policy in August 1992. Under these arrangements it is now for the private sector to bring forward proposals for new MSAs. At the same time the minimum spacing has been reduced from about thirty miles to around fifteen. The fifteen mile minimum is, however, neither a target nor an absolute limit. On the one hand we recognise that there are stretches of motorway where either demand is unlikely ever to support MSAs every fifteen miles, or where planning constraints will dictate a lesser frequency. On the other hand, we are prepared to be flexible in applying the fifteen mile minimum, for example where existing MSAs are a little less than thirty miles apart and a new one is proposed roughly half way between them. Services on other trunk roads, for which the Secretary of State for Transport is the highway authority, have always been a commercial matter for the private sector who are encouraged to provide comprehensive facilities. Local authorities are encouraged to work with the private sector in identifying suitable locations. There are no standard rules about spacing, though guidance has been issued to local planning authorities in Circular Roads 4/88 "The Control of Development on Trunk Roads". This is widely available to developers, a copy is also in the Library. The Circular advises that half an hour's driving time, or 25 miles, should be regarded as the maximum which any driver should have to travel without the availability of fuel, refreshment, toilet and parking facilities. However, on trunk roads where high average speeds normally obtain, it will not in general be unreasonable to expect a driver to travel at least 12 miles before reaching petrol filling and related facilities. Shorter intervals may be warranted in other circumstances. This is also covered in the Circular.

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