Along with High Peak MP Robert Largan, I met with the Roads Minister Baroness Vere this morning. I wanted to know what the Government’s position was on a proposed Trans-Pennine Tunnel, following media reports it was no longer on the agenda. Given the Prime Minister has said he wants to build a tunnel between Scotland, Liverpool, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland (!), it seems reasonable to try doing this one first. The background to this project can be read here: https://www.transportforthenorth.com/…/trans-pennine…
I’ve always been of the view that this would be extremely ambitious and ultimately perhaps unlikely to happen. However, I believe by keeping Ministers focused on this part of the world we make it more likely that a second phase to the Bypass, around Hollingworth and Tintwistle, will go ahead once the Mottram section is completed. It’s also worth saying big road tunnels of this kind do exist in other European countries, where they mitigate the environmental impact of traffic as well as provide more safety than roads like the existing Woodhead and Snake passes.
The Minister said a tunnel has not been ruled out, that work is still ongoing but that any firm proposal would still be a long way off. It would also clearly involve a significant cost and environmental considerations would be paramount. In technical engineering terms, this is an even more challenging proposition than the Lower Thames crossing or the tunnel being built by Stonehenge.
In addition, the Minister was also able to say the progress with the Mottram bypass is proceeding well through the necessary stages and that a second phase is under consideration for the next Road Investment Strategy Period (RIS3).