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M74 Extension Goes Ahead 2005-03-25

Posted by clype in Glasgow, Intolerance, Money, Scotland, Statistics.
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The MSP for Transport, Mr.Nicol Stephen has today 2005-03-25, approved the building of the long-delayed 500 million GBP extension to the M74 to the south of Glasgow, saying it would bring clear economic benefits. Known as ‘the road to nowhere’, the 8 km, six-lane ‘missing link’ motorway will be built between the Fullarton Road and Kingston junctions.

However, in his report, published just yesterday — 2005-03-24, The Local Inquiry Reporter, Mr.Richard Hickman warned that for transport, environmental, business and community reasons, the project was

‘Very likely to have very serious undesirable results. ‘The economic and traffic benefits of the project arising from the transfer of future jobs from other parts of Scotland would be more limited, more uncertain and, in the case of congestion benefits, probably ephemeral. ‘It is therefore concluded that the public benefits of the proposal would be insufficient to outweigh the considerable disadvantages’.

The Reporter also questioned The Scottish Executive’s transport policy of meeting its target of 70 per cent of spending on public transport by 2006.

But The MSP for Transport, of ‘The Scottish Liberal Democrat Party’ (who has been under pressure from Scottish New Labour MSPs to back the project), said that — after studying the findings — he had taken the opposite view to that of The Reporter, and given the go-ahead for the motorway, he said:

[Picture of Nicol Steven]
‘This project is a “key” element in completing the central Scotland motorway network. This will bring much-needed economic, social and safety benefits’.

He predicted the motorway link would improve the quality of life for local communities, reduce congestion on the M8 and local roads, and reduce road injury accidents by up to 50 a year by removing traffic from local roads. He added:

‘This project will help create around 20 000 jobs in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley area’.

The MSP for Transport denied that the motorway was being built as part of a deal in which the Borders rail link was delivered to a Scottish Liberal Democrat heartland, and the motorway helped Scottish New Labour in the West of Scotland. He said only:

‘We reached this decision in a fair and open way.

‘My role as transport minister is to try to deliver transport improvements across all of Scotland’.

The MSP for Transport said that 70 per cent of the transport budget up to 2007 will go on public transport, but that the partnership agreement between the two coalition parties had contained a promise to build the M74 link. Those encouraged by the announcement lodged their agreement: Mr.Iain Mcmillan, The Director of ‘CBI Scotland’, said:

[Picture of Iain Mcmillan]
‘We have not looked closely at The Reporter’s reasoning, but we find it almost impossible to believe that The Reporter could have reached such a judgment.

‘The need for this new vital artery is beyond doubt‘.

Mr.Alan Wilson, The Chief Executive of ‘The Scottish Council for Development and Industry’, said M8 congestion was putting Scottish companies at a serious disadvantage.

‘The “road to nowhere” will now become a “route to success”‘, he said. ‘The west of Scotland is “the engine room” of the Scottish economy, and it needs “first-class infrastructure”‘.

Mr.Charlie Gordon, the Leader of Glasgow City Council, said the link would make a huge difference to the south side and east end of the city.

[Picture of Charlie Gordon]
‘Not only will it remove traffic from busy local roads, but it will open up land for redevelopment and create opportunities for up to 20 000 new jobs in the vicinity of the “five-mile” extension.

‘It will also improve access to Glasgow Airport’.

Ms.Sue Nicholson, the head of campaigns for ‘The RAC Foundation’, also welcomed the decision. She said:

[Picture of Sue Nicholson]
‘We have prevaricated over the future for this road for a decade or more.

‘Now it is time to move on with it’.

Ms.Liz Cameron, The Director of ‘The Scottish Chambers of Commerce’, said the announcement was “great news” for business in the west of Scotland.

[Picture of Liz Cameron]
‘We want to see similar progress made with other unfinished routes — including the M80, with the M8 upgraded to motorway status for its entire length’, she said.

Those discouraged by the announcement lodged their disagreement Mr.Duncan Mclaren, Chief Executive of ‘Friends of the Earth’ said:

‘This represents probably the worst environmental decision ever taken by ‘The Scottish Executive’. ‘Those who argued for sustainable alternatives have won the arguments — and been “stabbed in the back” by Scottish ministers. ‘We will now be exploring every legal avenue, including the use of judicial review, to halt this motorway. ‘While [Scottish New] Labour must carry the lion’s share of the blame for this decision, there are now serious doubts about whether The [Scottish] Liberal Democrats can be trusted on environment issues again’.

‘The Scottish Green Party’s’ transport spokesman, Mr.Chris Ballance, said the announcement was

[Picture of Chris Ballance]
‘Bad news for Glasgow’.

‘We now have evidence that the M74 extension will be a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and will not do what ministers claim it will achieve.

‘Yet still The [Scottish] Executive intend to “steamroller” ahead with it’.

Mr.Patrick Harvie, a Green Party MSP, predicted the decision would lead to a ‘campaign of direct action’.

[Picture of Patrick Harvie]
‘The whole process has been a complete “sham”.

‘This decision is going to result in real anger in Glasgow — and a significant amount of protests’.

Mr.Will Jess, who chairs ‘JAM74’, a coalition of community activists and environmental groups, said:

‘We are definitely going to be seeking a judicial review of this decision, and if it takes “direct action” to hold up the process, we are certainly up for it’.

Ms.Rosie Kane, ‘The Scottish Socialist Party’ MSP and veteran ‘anti-road protester’, said:

[Picture of Rosie Kane]
‘The Scottish Executive has “driven a coach and horses” through the whole concept of independent inquiries.

‘The “M74 campaigners” will now be “looking at” a judicial review — and we warn The Scottish Executive that their contempt for the democratic process will “cost them dearly”‘.

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