Norman Baker
Norman Baker

The A1 north of Newcastle to the Scottish border has been made a route of strategic national importance following a consultation, Regional and Local Transport Minister Norman Baker announced today.

The move sees approximately sixty-five miles of the A1 join a key list of nationally important roads.

It is part of the Government’s move to ensure the economic importance of routes from England to the capital cities of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are properly recognised.

A number of roads linking Bootle with Twelve Quays Ferry Terminal in Birkenhead, Merseyside, will also become a route of strategic national importance. This is because it is the main passenger and freight ferry terminal for traffic travelling between Liverpool and Belfast.

Norman Baker said: “The important changes I am announcing today will ensure the economic importance of routes from England to Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff are properly recognised.

“The changes are of particular significance for the A1 north of Newcastle where campaigners have long fought to have the route recognised as being of national importance.

“While it does not guarantee funding – any proposed upgrade would need to be subject to the usual decision making processes – it finally recognises the road’s importance for freight and other strategic traffic travelling between Newcastle and Edinburgh.” In 2009 fourteen Strategic National Corridors (SNCs) were identified by the Department for Transport – recognising the economic importance of road and rail routes linking the largest English cities with the busiest ports and airports in England.

However, the criteria set out at that time did not specify that key road and rail routes providing links between Newcastle and Edinburgh, Liverpool and Belfast or Bristol and Cardiff should be included.

In practice Cardiff is linked to Bristol via the M4 and M48, which are already recognised as routes of strategic national importance. But Edinburgh and services to Belfast were unconnected to SNCs by road, and today’s changes rectify this.

A number of other changes to the SNCs were proposed by consultation respondents, including extensions to the SNCs which would affect Norfolk, Devon and Kent. Ministers will not make a final decision on the scope and role of the SNCs until the Local Enterprise Partnerships – and their role in transport decision making – are fully established.

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