Campaigners have welcomed the clear timetable given by the Department for Transport for action on the A1 through Northumberland.
MP Sir Alan Beith, campaigner and Conservative parliamentary candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan and senior officials from Northumberland County Council have all met representatives from the Department for Transport (DfT) this week for further talks about dualling the A1 north of Newcastle.
The DfT set out the process for developing the route, and Sir Alan will be a key player on the reference group for the project, representing his constituents.
“I make a point of raising the issue of the A1 regularly with transport ministers and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and I am very pleased that progress is being made,” he said.
“I will keep working to secure a firm funding commitment for the work from the Coalition Government, and to make sure that, unlike the Conservative Government’s hollow commitment to dual the A1 made in 1992, which came to nothing, the upgrading work is carried out.”
The county council is part of a group of stakeholders which hopes to finalise the agreed scope by early February with the detailed feasibility study to be completed by the autumn.
Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We certainly welcome these talks and we know how important an issue this is to local people and the business community.
“The aim is to build a business case for dualling the A1 in Northumberland and look at the economic case for more investment in other transport projects along the route.
“We look forward to getting more detailed ideas and we will be working hard to make our case at a national level.”
As reported in today’s Gazette, the DfT commissioned several feasibility studies as part of a seven-year funding plan after last year’s Autumn Statement to look at large infrastructure projects across England.
The findings of the A1 study will be presented to central government and if strict value-for-money criteria are met, funding could be released finally to upgrade the section of the A1 that has not been dualled.
It has been confirmed that all evidence reviews have to be completed by the end of March, therefore, evidence will need to be submitted by the end of February to ensure it is taken into account.
Ms Trevelyan, director of the Dual the A1 campaign, said: “For many years, the Dual the A1 campaign has been gathering evidence from residents and businesses who understand the need for a dualled A1 between Newcastle and Edinburgh and the value that it would bring.
“There is now a golden opportunity to make the strongest possible case on economic grounds for A1 dualling and we need as much new evidence as possible.
“The feasibility study will consider the costs of such a large project and will examine the economic benefits that dualling would bring.
“I will be contacting as many businesses and residents as possible and I encourage everyone who cares about this issue to add their evidence to our campaign here.
“We must use this opportunity to get a better deal on the A1 or we risk further delays to this vital project.”