Politics: 'No jobs from new roads'

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The Independent Online
For years, the notion that new roads bring employment to isolated parts of the country has been virtually unchallenged by the Government. But an obscure but important committee of academics, the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (Sactra), warned that the benefits of new road links may often be "misplaced".

The argument, used mainly by local authorities when lobbying for new highways, was also questioned by Gavin Strang, the transport minister, who said that building new roads would not solve traffic problems.

For years, many academics have argued that funding huge road programmes would not have a detrimental effect on local economies.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England produced a report in 1993 which questioned Cornwall County Council's request to "catch up with the rest of the country in terms of more roads".

One Sactra committee member pointed out that improvements to the A38 in Cornwall had certainly increased access but had not noticeably produced jobs in the county.

John Whitelegg, professor of environmental studies at John Moores University in Liverpool, also produced a report a year later that looked at whether employment rates matched road building.

He said: "I found there was no correlation ... in East Anglia I looked at Kings Lynn, which had no new roads but performed very well. Whereas the M65, which linked Burnley, Nelson and Colne to the M6, had not seen new jobs created."

According to the RAC, 600 communities in Britain wanted bypasses.