TRANSPORT should become easier and cheaper in Suffolk, according to the Chancellor’s autumn statement.
When Chancellor George Osborne outlined his plans in the House of Commons on Tuesday, he promised improvements to the A14, dropped January’s fuel duty increase and pledged that rail fare rises would be limited to inflation for a year.
Alongside his speech, the Government published a revised National Infrastructure Plan which revealed it had done a deal with two pension funds for £20 million of investment in infrastructure projects.
They include upgrades to the A14 west of Cambridge, which will end existing bottlenecks for traffic heading from Suffolk to the A1 and M1. Moves include a commitment to increase capacity and improve performance on the A14 ‘to support proposed housing developments in Northstowe, Waterbeach and Alconbury’, which may include a tolled alternative route, as on the M6.
It also pledges £1 billion to ease congestion on main routes, including upgrading the junction at the western end of the A14 where it meets the M1 and M6.
As well as the fares pledge in the Chancellor’s speech, the infrastructure plan also promises commuters that the Government is committed to ‘enhancement and renewal works to improve stations and rail infrastructure, improve resilience against extreme weather and tackle problems more quickly’.
For those trying to work from home or run rural businesses the good news is that Norfolk and Suffolk’s broadband improvements will be among the first in the country to go ahead. The plan says the Broadband Delivery UK quango expects to have its Broadband Delivery Framework in place by spring 2012 and the first projects on it will be ‘Devon and Somerset, Norfolk and Wiltshire, followed by Suffolk’.
But the revised plan may not please everyone, notably the conservation groups, like the National Trust and Suffolk and Norfolk Wildlife Trusts, who had already objected to plans to ease planning controls.
As part of promises to speed up the planning approval process the Government pledges: “[To] ensure that compliance with the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives does not lead to unnecessary costs and delays to development, while continuing to support the directives’ objectives.”
The Chancellor’s speech and the full infrastructure plan are at www.direct.gov.uk