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Rival transport plans head for collision

CLASHES BETWEEN the transport plans of local authorities and Regional Development Agencies are still likely, despite Government assurances that neither would take precedence over the other.

Fears had been growing that the 15 year regional transport strategies formulated by local authorities in eight English regions would be undermined by the transport infrastructure proposals of RDAs - economic development agencies with funding muscle.

In a response to the House of Commons regional affairs select committee, the Government this week claimed: 'We do not believe that it is necessary or sensible for there to be a hierarchical relationship between Regional Planning Guidance and RDAs' strategies.' The two bodies would be expected to work closely together to co-ordinate their strategies, it added.

However, Local Government Association economic regeneration officer Tony Rich criticised the Government's failure to say specifically how disputes might be tackled. He said: 'If there's not a strong coherence between economic strategies and transport plans, there is a danger that the funding may not address the same priorities.'

Disagreements have already occurred between the South East England Development Agency and the local planning authority in the South East - Serplan.

SEEDA's strategy is geared towards new infrastructure in areas of already high growth. Serplan's regional transport strategy shuns unsustainable growth in west London, concentrating instead on regenerating east London.

SEEDA's infrastructure and development manager Chris Moore acknowledged the RDA's plan for reducing congestion hot spots in the Heathrow area. However, he said that Serplan's regional transport strategy would create congestion to the east of London.

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