Mersey Gateway Project gets funding approval from Spending Review
Mersey Gateway backers have hailed the government’s decision to give the project funding approval as “good news for the whole north west”.
Chancellor George Osborne MP confirmed the government’s commitment to the Mersey Gateway Project during his speech in parliament today, saying: “We should prioritise those areas of public spending which are most likely to generate growth.” He then went on to say that the government would “provide funding for the new bridge over the River Mersey” which will run between Runcorn and Widnes.
He also said that Transport Secretary Philip Hammond MP will make a statement to the House of Commons next week where he will give more details about Transport schemes around the country.
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “This is good news for Halton and the whole of the north west. We always felt confident in our case to government because this project is about delivering jobs and investment that will support our regional economy for years to come.”
Steve Nicholson, Mersey Gateway Project Director, said: “This is great news. What we would like from government now is the detail of the funding proposals and a clear and quick timetable for a planning decision that will allow us to start the procurement process and deliver the best deal for the public purse on this project.”
He added: “We can now take the project forward to construction with confidence that we have the support of government. The planning decision is however critical to our timetable and we would urge government to give this priority over the next few months.”
Paula Cain, Chief Executive of Halton Chamber of Commerce, said: “There are already over 130 businesses from across the region that have expressed an interest in becoming suppliers for this project, and I would urge any businesses who think they can provide any services that could support the project to register by going online at www.merseygateway.co.uk.”
Steve O’Connor, Managing Director of Stobart Ports, said: “I am delighted with this news as this is an important piece in a jigsaw that can mean new jobs and investment for Halton and the wider region. What we need now is planning approval to be granted at the earliest possible opportunity so we can begin the task of creating jobs and investment in the region’s future.”
The centrepiece of the Mersey Gateway Project is a new six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes.
In addition to speeding up journey times and improving journey reliability in the region it will act as a catalyst for investment and bring benefits over four times greater than the investment cost, including:
- an estimated 4,640 new jobs through direct employment, regeneration activity and inward investment, and
- the generation of a conservative estimate of £61.9 million a year in Gross Value Added from the new jobs by 2030.
The existing Silver Jubilee Bridge will also be tolled as part of the project.
It is anticipated that construction work will start within two years of government granting planning approval, and that the new bridge will take around three years to complete.