The Department for Transport published their report shortlisting five routes for the trans-Pennine tunnel – the most ambitious road scheme undertaken in the UK in more than five decades.
All five routes join the M60 east of Manchester to the M1 north of Sheffield, with four options starting at the M67.
The report claims that a tunnel beneath the Pennines would boost the economy of the region, and potentially benefit the environment of the Peak District by reducing traffic in the national park.
We agree that the North needs investment in its transport links; in rail particularly, as well as better integration of transport planning and more funding for public transport. However, we do not agree that a trans-Pennine road tunnel is the answer to fulfil these ambitions.
Even if there are economic benefits from improved connectivity between cities, we do not believe they should be achieved by encouraging longer distance commuting and other journeys, which would result in increased carbon emissions, air pollution, collisions and more congestion.
Whichever route they choose, if the tunnel goes ahead it will impact hugely and adversely on the Park’s beautiful heather moorland which it is designated to protect. For example; safety exits and ventilation shafts would require road access in no go areas.
We are concerned about the Government’s commitment to increasing road traffic through our national park. Here’s why…
- Additional road capacity can’t keep pace with potential demand and gives improvements in journey for only a few years after which congestion sets in.
- The Centre for Cities recent work shows that intra-city investment in both transport and skills, not investment in intercity transport, is the key to success.
- Both Manchester and Sheffield are congested and want to encourage use of buses, trams, train, walking and cycling – a new road under the Pennines would only dump more traffic on congested roads. Drivers may be able to speed 30 mins between the cities but then get stuck in queues.
- Air pollution is a real and serious problem from traffic on the M67 and M1: a trans-Pennine tunnel dual carriageway will just worsen it.
- The proposed tunnel would be longer than the longest tunnel in the world if it is going to avoid the Peak District National Park.
- The Laerdal in Norway is 15 miles long, single lane and, due to restrictions on use, it only caters for daily traffic of just 1,000 vehicles per day and a maximum hourly traffic of 400 vehicles. It takes 20 minutes to drive through the tunnel and drivers have experienced mental strain.