Business and Economy
Get the job done! Government urged to deliver vital second strategic road
Posted on: 18 December 2020
Devon County Council and South West business leaders have joined forces in calling on the Government to commit to upgrading the full length of the delay-ridden A303/A30/A358 corridor.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ backing for the Stonehenge tunnel has been warmly welcomed, but there are mounting concerns that the Government has got cold feet over funding vital improvements to the whole route despite Highways England citing an independent report that says it would boost the South West economy by £39 billion.
Analysis commissioned by a campaign partnership of South West local authorities and LEPs showed that improving the whole A303/A30/A358 corridor would not only deliver a massive uplift to the region’s economy from Cornwall to Wiltshire, it would also create 21,000 new jobs over time.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Development, said: “Before the pandemic ravaged our economy the Great South West desperately needed a safe, reliable second strategic route to London and the South East markets, it is even more essential now to support our economic recovery and growth.
“Getting the go-ahead for the Stonehenge Tunnel and the progress made on Sparkford to Ilchester are crucial first steps. I welcome this as I welcome Highways England’s citing of the independent study commissioned by our campaign partnership as evidence of the huge economic benefits improving the route will bring.
“But the study is crystal clear, all those enormous benefits in new jobs, prosperity and safety will only be achieved if the whole route, the A303, A30 including the important Blackdowns link to Honiton, and the A358 to Taunton is substantially improved.
“We are concerned that the Government’s current Road Investment Strategy, published in March 2020 lacks detail. It is suggesting an “A303 Phase 2 Upgrade” with no clear projects or programme. I am concerned that Government’s plan of routing of all south/westbound traffic onto the M5 will result in congestion at Taunton and on the M5.
“The M5 will not cope with the additional traffic, it’s barely coping in peak times now, so the Government needs to be clear about its intentions, give a firm commitment to improving the whole route and a firm commitment to deliver the huge economic benefits that Highways England supports.”
The call has been backed by the British Chambers of Commerce South West and CBI South West who represent thousands of businesses across the region.
Stuart Elford, Chair of British Chambers of Commerce South West, said: “Now more than ever our region needs a powerful statement of intent from the Government that it will finally transform the whole of the congested A303/A30/A358 corridor into the modern second strategic route our economy is crying out for. This is no time for half measures, if we are to build back better as the Prime Minister wants, then the Government needs to be bold and put its money where its mouth is.”
Deborah Fraser, CBI South West Director, said: “Upgrades to the full A303/A30/A358 corridor will drastically improve connectivity between the South West and the rest of the country, and open new doors for businesses in advanced manufacturing, low carbon and digital technologies, and tourism and hospitality.
“At a time when so many businesses are worried about their future, this project can inject fresh optimism in the South West and boost regional productivity, while delivering tangible proof that the government is serious about fulfilling its levelling up pledges across the country.”Posted in: Business and Economy | Environment