Final Mersey Gateway session finishes
The final session of the public inquiry into the Mersey Gateway Project was heard this week.
The bulk of the inquiry concluded ahead of schedule in June, after a number of objectors withdrew their reservations and others chose not to have their case cross-examined in public.
This weeks supplementary session was to allow the inspector time to consider an objection relating to proposed changes to open space land in Widnes between the Catalyst Trade Park and St Helen’s Canal.
Halton Borough Council wishes to acquire some existing open space land for the project along the proposed route to enable the bridge structure to be built. The council is then proposing to replace this land with a new area of open space land immediately next to it.
Alan T. Gray, the inspector conducting the public inquiry, will now write up his findings into a detailed report. This will be presented to the Secretaries of State for Transport and Communities and Local Government, along with a recommendation as to whether the project should proceed.
A decision is expected early in 2010.
Cllr Tony McDermott, Leader of Halton Borough Council and Chair of the Mersey Gateway Executive Board, said: “We’re not complacent but we do feel that the inquiry went well, and we look forward to reading the inspector’s report in due course. This project is vital to the long-term prosperity of Halton and doing nothing is not an option.”
The centrepiece of the £431million Mersey Gateway Project proposal is a new toll bridge over the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes. It also includes or facilitates:
- plans to develop and integrate public transport, cycle and pedestrian links across Halton
- plans to kick start a major 20-year regeneration programme for Halton improving regional transport links to encourage new and inward investment
- road user charges on the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge between the two towns.
The project will:
- mean an estimated 4,640 new jobs through direct employment, regeneration activity and inward investment
- generate an estimated £61.9 million a year in Gross Value Added from the new jobs by 2030.