Prime Minister David Cameron will 'certainly have a look' at funding A36/46 link road in Bath
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will “certainly have a look” at funding an A36/46 link road in Bath.
Mr Cameron was responding to a query from Bath’s MP Ben Howlett at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons this lunchtime.
He said: “As the Prime Minister will know from his last visit here my constituency is plagued by high air pollution and also congestion too.
“Given this government’s commitment to invest billions of pounds in infrastructure, something the previous Labour government failed to do in 13 years, will the Prime Minister look at committing to look at the construction of the long overdue and missing A36/46 link road to the east of my constituency?”
The Conservative leader responded: “I will certainly have a look at what my honourable friend says.
“He makes an important point because some people think that if you care about air quality there is no room for any road building but of course stationary traffic is much more polluting than moving traffic and we have to make sure the arteries that serve all our constituencies are open so I will look carefully at what he’s said but at the same time we should recognise that air quality is improving.
“Nitrogen oxides are down 17 per cent over the last four years and we want to do more by introducing the clean air programme.”
Mr Howlett said afterwards: “I am really pleased that the Prime Minister has agreed to look at plans to build the long-awaited A36/46 link road and understands the importance of building this link to reduce both congestion and air pollution in Bath.
“I will be launching a petition to the House of Commons in the coming weeks to show just how much Bath residents want this link road.”
Last year political leaders in Bath and North East Somerset began looking into the feasibility of an A36/A46 link road for the first time in almost a decade.
The multi-million pound scheme has been abandoned several times in the last 30 years over concerns about its impact on the local environment and its cost.
In 2007 it was estimated that the project could cost up to £46 million but this figure is now likely to have risen significantly.
Mr Howlett launched his Stop Bath Stalling initiative during the election campaign arguing a link road was well overdue.
It has long been thought a link road would relieve congestion on the A4 London Road and A36 Cleveland Bridge.
The revival of the project also has the support of Bath and North East Somerset Council leader Tim Warren and Conservative MP for North Somerset Jacob Rees-Mogg.
When plans for the three-mile Batheaston and Swainswick Bypass were first drawn up by the Department for Transport in the 1980s they included a phase two that would create a link road between the A46 and A36.
But despite the £45 million bypass getting built, and opening in 1996 against fierce opposition, the A36 link road, known locally as the Beckford Spur, was abandoned because of budget cuts.
The original plans show a slip road off the Batheaston and Swainswick Bypass next to the Bathampton railway junction. The new road then ran parallel to the River Avon before joining the A36 at Dry Arch corner.
The scheme was mentioned again in 2004 as part of the Bristol/Bath to South Coast Study, which said two possible routes should be considered for the link road – Bathampton Meadows to Dry Arch Corner and a larger route from east of Bath to Beckington.
Both schemes were estimated to cost £46 million but were unfunded and were not progressed.
In 2012 the West of England Joint Transport Executive Committee included the A36/A46 Link Road on a wish list of future transport schemes that would help keep the region moving.
The committee did not identify any funding sources.