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Roads to Nowhere

Reaction to DfT support for Norwich Northern Distributor Road

16 December 2009
As the UK pushes for a climate deal in Copenhagen, environmental campaigners accused the UK Department of Transport of hypocrisy. Today DfT authorised [1] a £91 million road in Norwich, which will, with associated development, add to carbon emissions from transport, while holding up £92m spending on buses and low carbon city transport.[2] The Norwich Northern Distributor Road, which was given ‘programme entry’ status today, is linked with business parks and a so-called ‘eco-town’, which will on current plans be entirely car-based with no new public transport. By contrast, the ‘Kickstart’ bus funding programme, which has received £63m of bids from councils across England [3], and the £29m sustainable cities programme to help cities cut carbon from transport [4], have been held up and may be abandoned due to Treasury opposition.

Campaign for Better Transport executive director Stephen Joseph said:

“For all the fine words at Copenhagen, on the ground we’re still getting transport and planning decisions which will add to carbon emissions and car dependence, while funding for alternatives gets frozen out. The Kickstart bus funding and the ‘sustainable travel cities’ programme would help give people real alternatives to driving everywhere. Lower carbon alternatives for Norwich have been ignored by Norfolk county council and the Department for Transport and the funding is instead going to a dinosaur road scheme.”

Notes to Editors
[1] The Department for Transport operates a three-stage approval process for local authority major schemes:

  • Programme Entry once the initial business case has been approved by the department
  • Conditional Approval once the planning processes have been completed and the statutory powers are in place
  • Full Approval once a final tender price has been secured from a contractor

A new business case has to be produced for each stage to prove value for money for the scheme.

 

[2] DfT: First step for £90.7 million road scheme in Norfolk

[3] Kickstart bus funding – applications of £63m: (See Hansard, 10 Dec 2009 : Column 540W)
From a written answer to Norman Baker, MP on Bus Services: Finance “To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what bids for funding for new and enhanced bus services for local authorities and their partners he has received under the Kickstart Bus Funding Competition announced in January 2009; and when he plans to announce the successful schemes to be funded. [304274] Mr. Khan: The Department for Transport received 105 bids for funding, totaling £63 million, from local authorities across England. An announcement will be made in due course.”

[4] DfT: Up to £29m for sustainable travel city funding