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Putting the case for transport

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Transport is the number one concern for England's regional development agencies.

When surveyed last year, all nine identified transport as the biggest or second biggest barrier to economic growth in their region.

Identifying transport schemes that will bring real economic benefits is therefore a top priority. But current appraisal mechanisms do not do this.

'We are good at appraising schemes once identified, but we need a sound approach to identifying surface infrastructure of national economic importance in the first place, ' Mann said.

'This framework provides a basis for identifying the right schemes to underpin our national and regional economic ambitions, ' she added.

The framework has been developed to augment, not replace, techniques such as the Department for Transport's New Approach to Appraisal.

It works by taking as its starting point Public Service Agreement 2 (PSA/2), a document which has become the mantra of the RDAs, the Treasury, the Department of Trade & Industry and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

This calls on them all to 'make sustainable improvements in the economic performance of all English regions and, over the long term, reduce the gap in growth rates between the regions'.

In this it is assumed that advantage must be taken of London's role as one of only three truly global cities in the world. It is also assumed that inter-regional and international links be supported and strengthened.

With this in mind, transport schemes can then be assessed against their ability to lsecure the current position;

lbuild on regional strengths;

lsupport new patterns of growth.

A number of schemes have been identified in outline as national priorities (see box).

The next step is for the DfT and RDAs to develop indicators and measures that can fully quantify the benefits of these schemes.

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