Although the Government outlined its support for the North West’s proposals to improve transportation in the region today, the proposed M6-Heysham Link has still not received full approval - and nestling in the fine print of a Department of Transport statement is the current estimated cost of building it.
The Government details the potential cost of the route - one of several in the region that have not yet had full approval - at a staggering minimum of £133 million.
Proposals for new roads in the North West were submitted to the Department for Transport in February 2009 with more detailed advice being submitted by Greater Manchester in May. The plans set out the region’s transport priorities over the next 10 years.
Included are an accelerated package of schemes in Greater Manchester including Metrolink extensions, bus service improvements and Park & Ride proposals; and an increased allocation for the Pennine Reach scheme in Blackburn which will improve bus links between Blackburn, Darwen and Accrington.
The DfT noted that many of the schemes from the first Regional Funding Allocations round, confirmed in this advice, are progressing well. This includes a number of approvals recently granted to major schemes, including the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramway announced in June.
The Department also confirmed that it was content with the region’s priorities but says the detailed schemes, which include the Heysham link - and their impact on greenhouse gas emissions - will be considered further on a case by case basis before receiving full approval.
"I am encouraged by the reference to greenhouse gases," local transport expert John Whitelegg told virtual-lancaster. "This nasty road came out as the worst local authority scheme in terms of CO2 when I looked at this issue at the public inquiry. The Inspector will long be remembered in the hall of infamy for the way he ignored them."
A scheme’s inclusion within the RFA programme does not necessarily mean the funding has been approved. Schemes such as the County's Heysham link proposal, which it has been actively publicising in the local press recently, will only proceed once they have successfully completed the Department’s funding approval processes and secured any necessary legal powers.
The proposed Heysham-M6 link is currently the only major road development planned for Lancashire at this time.
• The Government’s RFA 2 guidance can be found at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/regional_funding_advice300708.pdf.
• More detailed guidance on transport aspects can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/strategy/rfa/rfaround2/RFAsupplementarynote1.pdf.