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Villiers - transport budget to focus on 'sustainable' solutions

Any new Conservative government would give the priority to those schemes that demonstrate a sustainable agenda, according to shadow transport minister Theresa Villiers today.

“You will not be surprised that I will not be able to give you a detailed breakdown of any transport budget,” she said.

“But our priorities will be Carbon emissions reductions. At the moment it is virtually impossible to have those schemes that will drive down Carbon approved.

“We would reorganise the Department for Transport’s priorities. Schemes that reduce car use are not scored highly because such schemes will reduce the amount of fuel duty coming into the exchequer. We would turn this around.”

Villiers also repeated the promise not to implement a national road pricing scheme, but she said individual schemes could work to fund particular projects.

“We do feel that congestion charging could be something we could use with lorries as they pay nothing for the damage they do to our roads. But this would not be a staking horse for a national scheme.

“Local schemes could use future toll revenue to relieve local problems such as a new road or bridge, and we would look at this favourably,” she said.

However, Manchester city council’s chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein - often considered as a likely Mayor of Manchester - said congestion charging may yet play a part in dealing with Manchester’s transport improvements, despite the failure of last year’s TIF debacle.

“Research shows that pricing has a significant role to play whether we like it or not to deal with increasing road congestion,” he said.


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