Hopes for five major transport schemes
By Jonathan BarnesSTRONG cases will be made for the Government to give the go-ahead to five major transport schemes in Suffolk, a senior councillor has insisted.
By Jonathan Barnes
STRONG cases will be made for the Government to give the go-ahead to five major transport schemes in Suffolk, a senior councillor has insisted.
Suffolk County Council has picked five projects, including four bypasses, as its top priorities for funding from the Government between 2006 and 2011.
The schemes - a bypass for Brandon, an A146 bypass between Barnby and Carlton Colville, a relief road for four villages on the A12, an integrated transport package for north Lowestoft and a sustainable transport plan for Ipswich - were approved yesterday by the council's executive committee.
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But transport bosses fear they may struggle to get many of the projects through the Government's strict criteria, particularly as some of the schemes present major environmental problems, but they have pledged to push for all five to get the go-ahead.
Julian Swainson, the council's portfolio holder for transport, said it would not waste hundreds of thousands of pounds on preparing full bids if it did not think the schemes had a good chance of success.
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“I believe all of them are capable of being worked up into a successful bid for funding,” he added.
“We have been informally told we shouldn't expect to get that number of schemes through and it is a considerable challenge.
“But where there is a strong case for making a bid that deserves funding, we owe it to the local community to give the bid our full support.”
The five priority schemes were selected from a shortlist of 19 across the county and most have been demanded by residents for many years.
But, in the report before yesterday's meeting, fears were raised about the projects faltering for fears of the environmental consequences or impact on biodiversity.
Councillors were told there was a “high risk” of the A1065 Brandon bypass failing because of its environmental impact, while there were concerns the A12 bypass for the villages of Farnham, Stratford St Andrew, Little Glemham and Marlesford would be denied on biodiversity grounds.
But executive committee member, Peter Monk, said: “We have got to be pragmatic about this and remember that people are as an important part of the environment as flora and fauna and the other aspects.”
Mr Swainson said the sustainable transport plan for Ipswich, including improving facilities for cyclists and pedestrians and combining the two bus stations, was the scheme that was the most “ready to go”.
Other successful projects are unlikely to be built for seven to 10 years, the report added, due to the amount of preparatory and planning work required.
Mr Swainson expressed his regret that 14 schemes - including the East Bank Link Road for Ipswich, a relief road for Stonham on the A140 and the A143 Great Barton bypass - had not been shortlisted for the local transport plan.
He said that was for a number of reasons, ranging from an adverse effect on road safety, being too expensive, not being expensive enough (the project must cost more than £5million to qualify for Government funding) and not providing value for money.
But Mr Swainson pledged to explore other alternatives to tackle problems suffered in the areas of the unsuccessful schemes.
The priority schemes will now go for full approval from the council before being presented in a local transport plan to the Government next July.