Mersey Gateway Project raised at Prime Ministers Questions by Derek Twigg MP
The importance of the UK Government’s role in keeping the timetable of the Mersey Gateway Project on track was raised in Prime Ministers Questions in the House of Commons today (Wednesday 18 March) by Halton MP Derek Twigg.
Mr. Twigg highlighted the importance of the bridge to the local economy and asked the Prime Minister to do everything he could to ensure that the final approval for the scheme is not delayed.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded by praising Mr. Twigg’s work in support of the project and assuring him he will look closely at the issue, whilst adding that the Government has already announced plans to bring forward spending in infrastructure projects in general terms.
The reassurance from the Prime Minister was welcomed by Cllr Tony McDermott MBE, Leader of Halton Borough Council and Chair of the Mersey Gateway Executive Board. He said: “I’d like to thank Derek Twigg for raising the Mersey Gateway Project with the Prime Minister and his parliamentary colleagues. It is good to know that the importance of this project is being discussed at the highest levels in Parliament as it is vital for our long-term economic future here in Halton and across the Liverpool city- region.”
Halton MP Derek Twigg said: “It’s important that everyone connected with this scheme plays their part in keeping it moving forward so we can bring benefits like new jobs, regeneration opportunities and improved transport benefits to fruition as soon as possible. Government has played an important role in contributing a significant proportion of the funding for the project, and as the local MP for Halton I want to ensure that the report that is produced after the public inquiry is considered as soon as possible and final approval given.”
Recently published research shows the proposed new bridge and associated regeneration activity will help to bring a number of major benefits to the region. The Mersey Gateway Project’s Wider Economic Impact Report (WEIR) predicts that the project will create:
- 4,640 permanent new jobs as a result of the operation of the Mersey Gateway, regeneration activity and inward investment; and
- 470 ten-year equivalent temporary jobs generated in the north west region through the construction of the Mersey Gateway. There may be up to 500 people employed at the peak of construction.
It is estimated that by 2030 the net additional job gains will generate some £61.9 million (2009 prices) in Gross Value Added (GVA) per annum.
The predictions in the other research documents include:
- Some local journey times reduced by up to almost 40% in peak periods by
- 85% less daily traffic using the Silver Jubilee Bridge in 2015, freeing it up for use as a local bridge;
- environmental benefits from less congestion, resulting in a net reduction in CO2 emissions of 291,000 tonnes over the 60 year assessment period.
A public inquiry into the project starts on 19 May this year, and will be held at the Stobart Stadium, Halton. If, after the public inquiry, the Secretary of State approves the project, it is envisaged that construction work will start in 2011, with the new bridge expected to open in 2014.
If the project goes ahead charges will also be introduced on the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge. Toll levels have not yet been set, but it is expected that they will be similar to the cost of travelling through one of the Mersey Tunnels. The project team is actively investigating the best way to provide discounts to groups like local people and regular users.