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Stop the transport cuts

NCE campaign

NCE's campaign moves up a gear this week. Antony Oliver explains what is planned and how you can help.

THERE is no time to lose.

In less than five months time Chancellor Gordon Brown will publish his Comprehensive Spending Review setting out plans for the next three years of government spending.

At the same time the government will publish its revised and revamped 10 year transport plan to set out what transport spending can be expected between now and 2015.

It is increasingly likely that this transport plan will reflect the fact that the original plan published in 2000 has had some serious holes blown through it.

Brown has been battling to find the much needed cash for public services and hooking it out of the already long delayed transport programme is an obvious short term solution.

But as civil engineers will testify, this is not a sensible long term option.

And NCE's 'Stop the Transport Cuts' campaign is determined to ensure that government understands the wealth creation opportunities it will miss if transport's relatively small budget is lopped.

With your help we have identified 10 priority transport schemes for the UK. Each will boost the nation's wealth. Each has clear support locally, and clear benefits to local communities and business. And each has a track record of suffering frustrating delays at the hands of politicians.

NCE's 'Stop the Transport Cuts' campaign intends to make clear these benefits and persuade Gordon Brown that he would be crazy to draw a halt or delay their funding any longer.

It aims to persuade him that it is a false economy to do anything other than bring these schemes on line immediately.

Set out below is the timetable for the rest of NCE's campaign.

Each week we will publish information to help you understand the UK's priority schemes and so help you to join our fight for decent infrastructure in the UK.

And with your help we hope to be able to drive home the message about how engineers and their plans for better civil engineering infrastructure can help government achieve its goals.

INFOPLUS

Visit www. nceplus.co.uk to find out how to get involved with the campaign. There you will find:

A complete list of transport schemes highlighted by NCE readers as needing immediate funding.

Information and articles to download highlighting current pressures on UK transport spending.

A sample letter to send to your MP plus a list of names and addresses of MPs and ministers that should be made aware of the need to protect transport spending in the UK.

The campaign programme

Phase 1: January to February 3 Assemble list of priority schemes

Phase 2: February 3 Prioritise top 10 schemes

Phase 3: February to April Explain the priority schemes and gather evidence

Win support from key bodies and influencers

Phase 4: Civils 2004: 27-29 April Launch lobbying campaign in earnest.

Phase 5: May to June Ramp up lobbying of MPs, ministers and influencers

Phase 6: July Publish a check list for Gordon Brown to follow.

Top 10 targets

Crossrail: highlighted by NCE readers as the number one priority for a government serious about delivering a decent modern transport system to the UK.

M1 widening schemes: as the spine of the nation's motorway network, the route is in desperate need of improvement to accommodate the huge demand for north-south private and commercial road traffic. Major widening schemes are proposed between junctions 21 and 30 in the East Midlands.

A406 London North Circular Road improvements: one of the most heavily used, most heavily relied upon routes in the UK.

Although upgraded, it still suffers from isolated bottlenecks and is costing business massively.

London to Scotland high speed rail: seen as the financially sensible alternative to upgrading the West Coast Main Line to Glasgow, this new route would bring domestic train travel in the UK into the 21 century.

M74 extension: in the heart of Scotland's road network, this stretch of motorway is in desperate need of completion.

New Mersey Crossing: limited routes into Liverpool are stifling growth in the city and satellite towns. This new crossing will ease reliance on the already swamped Thelwall Viaduct and Runcorn's Silver Jubilee Bridge.

New Tyne Tunnel: a six week public inquiry into a projected £139m second Tyne Tunnel opens next month. Plans to build a two-lane road tunnel under the Tyne between East Howden and Jarrow have been held up by environmental objections. The local passenger authority claims the tunnel must be built if congestion on the A19 is to be reduced.

Thameslink 2000: as its name suggests, another long-awaited, yet vital transport project, this time to ease north-south through journeys across London.

East London Line: could be a quick win, with the project ready to go - all it needs is government approval. The project, a key part of London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics, involves extending the line north along a refurbished section of 19th century railway and south through a run-down area of east London - connecting into the national rail network north and south of the Thames for the first time.

A303 widening: plans for a 2.1km bored tunnel beneath the World Heritage site at Stonehenge go to public inquiry this spring.

Meanwhile transport secretary Alistair Darling must decide on whether to allow dualling of the A358 link to the M5 near Taunton or to permit the controversial dualling of the A303/A30 across the Blackdown Hills.

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