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Local Transport Projects (Funding)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 10th March 2016.

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Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough 9:30 am, 10th March 2016

What steps he is taking to provide funding for large local transport projects.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Department is providing over £7 billion for the devolved local growth fund, which will fund more than 500 local transport projects by the end of this Parliament. It now includes £475 million for transformational local transport schemes that are too large for the devolved allocations. We will be providing further details very soon.

Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough

May I make a plea to the Minister? Will he tell me when some of the £75 million funding from the roads investment strategy will be used to reduce the noise pollution that has already been identified by Highways England on the A47 Soke Parkway through Peterborough, adjacent to Apsley Way and Bradwell Road?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The A47 is part of the strategic road network and is therefore not covered by the money that I have just announced. However, in November 2014, the Chancellor announced £300 million for the A47, including the Wansford to Sutton section between the A1 and Peterborough. On the question of noise pollution, the Government have challenged Highways England to mitigate noise at more than 1,000 locations. Measures that could be used include noise reduction surfacing, tree planting and barriers.

Photo of Louise Ellman Louise Ellman Chair, Transport Committee

Transport for the North published a report this week that looks into local and regional links as well as access to the national network. It puts forward ambitious schemes for improvements in rail transport between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds and for better access to the High Speed 2 network. What kind of co-ordination will there be to ensure that this happens?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

It is particularly important that we co-ordinate rail and road systems, particularly in regard to freight, and HS2 will open up a large number of additional freight paths that will take pressure off the roads. Co-ordination will be absolutely vital and we are working with Transport for the North and the leaders of the great cities of the north, including Liverpool, to make sure that that happens. Indeed, I shall be in Liverpool later today.

Photo of Rebecca Harris Rebecca Harris Conservative, Castle Point

My hon. Friend will be aware of the absurd situation on Canvey where, although residents can virtually kick a football at the new DP World container port, it is easier to access the tens of thousands of jobs there by travelling from the east end of London. What support can he give my residents on Canvey Island who have been campaigning for a third road for many decades?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I very much agree that new road infrastructure can transform local economies and boost access to jobs, which is why we have given significant funding and freedoms to local areas to take forward schemes such as this. We will be announcing further funding opportunities very soon. I hope that my hon. Friend will continue to make the case for that project with Essex County Council and the South East local enterprise partnership. The port facilities in her constituency are absolutely superb, and it is important that we give them the infrastructure that they need to back them up.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Transport)

Large local infrastructure projects have been the hallmark of the Scottish Government since they came to power in 2007. There have been too many to list here, but they include the Borders rail link, the Tarbert to Campbelltown trunk link road and, in my own constituency, the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness. According to independent analysis, Scotland is investing twice as much per person in transport as England. That includes active travel projects such as cycling, on which we are already way ahead of the UK. Last year, this Government announced a new £680 million access fund up to 2021. Can they clear up the confusion about when that fund is going to go ahead?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman did not mention the high-speed rail line between Edinburgh and Glasgow, which has been conveniently shelved. He may be aware that SNP-controlled Perth and Kinross Council has decided that potholes now have to be at least 60 mm deep—that is nearly 2 and a half inches—before it will consider filling them in. That indicates what its priorities might be in some cases.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Transport)

The Minister and I may disagree on many things, but one thing that we do agree on is the benefits of cycling. The cycle-to-work scheme has been a popular and progressive policy, and credit is due to the Government for continuing with it. However, in the summer Budget, the Treasury said that it was actively monitoring salary sacrifice arrangements because they were becoming increasingly popular. In Scotland, progressive policies that work and are popular are something that the Government there support. Will he confirm that he is working to ensure that the Chancellor will protect cycle-to-work schemes in the forthcoming Budget?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman may have to be patient and wait for the Budget, but certainly schemes such as the cycle-to-work scheme are very good. Large numbers of people who have bicycles are using them to get to work and it is a great way of getting people fit and active, as well as reducing congestion on our roads.