Commons Gate

Sir Rod Eddington, Government Specialist Transport Adviser (HC 737-i)

Transport Committee 30 Nov 2005

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Evidence given by Sir Rod Eddington, Government Specialist Transport Adviser.

Q15 Mr. David Clelland: You said you had recently visited the north-east of England. Did you have the opportunity when you were there to discuss the effects of congestion on the A1 and the A19 on economic development in the area?

Sir Rod Eddington: Yes. We were there yesterday. We went down to Teesside as well, but we spent most of the day in the North East. I think the issue of congestion generally, although in this instance it is road congestion, is something that is raised wherever we go and it very quickly comes to a number of issues, ie the issue of what role does demand management have in resolving congestion problems, what are the alternatives and what are the causes of congestion. One of the things I am very keen that we do is to start by understanding what the journeys are, whether they are intercity journeys, whether they are people coming to work in the morning, whether they are freight journeys and if they are freight journeys, where are they coming from and to, and then from that to reflect on what the economic issues are. Road congestion is a problem around the country. Mind you, if you talk to people on the rail network, they will talk about the competition for space on the railway as well.

Q16 Mr. David Clelland: I was more interested in the current effects of congestion in that area on economic development. Are you aware that the Highways Agency has effectively blocked economic development around the A1 and the A19 because they say it is too congested?

Sir Rod Eddington: That issue was raised with us. I know these issues are important and they are significant locally and clearly they are issues that need to be addressed. As the Chairman suggested, we cannot wait until 2015 to address some of the challenges we face. Nevertheless, my brief is very clear, which is to step back and take a look at the bigger issues - and that is why the issue of congestion is important to us, because it clearly is a significant issue - and not to get enmeshed in the day-to-day challenges.

Q17 Mr. David Clelland: That is fair enough, but, as a general principle, if the Highways Agency were to adopt that policy across the country we would find that economic development in huge swathes of the country where we are trying to develop new businesses would be effectively blocked. Is that reasonable? Is it not economic development that is going to pay for the new infrastructure anyway?

Sir Rod Eddington: I have not spoken yet to the senior leadership of the Highways Agency, I have to do that in the next week and I have an appointment in my diary. It is one of the issues that I will raise.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

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