Mersey Gateway still alive as case remains strong
The Mersey Gateway Project team has strongly rejected media reports claiming that the project has hit a brick wall following an announcement made yesterday by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond that decisions on all major transport infrastructure projects would be put on hold until after this autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The project has also dismissed reports that Halton Borough Council needs to find more funds if the project is to be approved.
Speaking after the announcement, Chief Executive of Halton Borough Council David Parr said:
“Whilst the announcement by DfT means that a decision on whether the project is to be given the go ahead has been delayed, it does not mean that it has been scrapped.
“Nor does it mean that the council needs to find more funding for the project.
“Instead, the scheme will be assessed as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn where we feel that the project can present a compelling case for having its funding approved.
In particular, Mersey Gateway:
- Is a major economic driver delivering new jobs and increased economic opportunities – a priority for government.
- Is predominantly private sector funded.
- Is a “user pays” infrastructure proposition,
- Reduces the current carbon footprint generated by vehicles crossing the River Mersey.
- Offers excellent value for money for government and the public purse.
- Significantly enhances network resilience.
- Significantly enhances regional resilience.
The announcement also stated that schemes able to demonstrate funding from alternative sources could be given consideration ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Steve Nicholson, Mersey Gateway Project Director said:
“It had always been our expectation that future decisions on major projects would be subject to the outcome of the CSR. The granting of planning approval is naturally linked to the scheme being affordable and it therefore makes sense to confirm the funding decision before dealing with the formal planning approval.”
“We believe that the funding model we have in place offers exceptional value for money at a time when projects of all kinds are coming under increased scrutiny.
“The government is looking to alternative funding sources to help relieve the deficit and Mersey Gateway could lead the way as it would be delivered with over two thirds of the funding provided through tolling. The project fits well with the criteria published recently by government under which the CSR will be undertaken.
“The Mersey Gateway team will be working with our partners to ensure that the case for the project continues to align closely to government priorities.
“Although we are delayed we remain confident that Mersey Gateway will be receive government support in the autumn and we can go on to deliver this vitally important project for Halton and the wider north west region.”