Memorandum submitted by Leicester Friends
of the Earth
The Department of Transport intends to widen
the M1 motorway from Leicester to Leeds (junctions 21-42) to four
lanes in both directions. There is also widening planned for junctions
6a-13 (M25Luton), in fact preparatory work recently commenced
on this section.
The M1 carries a large volume of traffic (some
sections up to 160,000 vehicles per day). There is congestion
at peak times. The widening is proposed to "reduce congestion
and improve both safety and journey time reliability". The
proposed works are estimated to cost over £3 billion. However,
it should be noted that road programmes frequently exceed their
estimates by a factor of three!
The Government's decision to widen the M1 motorway
was preceded by various "Multi-Modal Studies" (MMS)
commissioned by the Government several years ago (full details
can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_about/documents/divisionhomepage/032193.hcsp).
The two MMS affecting the Midland section of
the M1 were entitled "M1 North/South Movements in the East
Midlands" and "West Midlands to East Midlands"
At the outset, the "multi modal approach"
to traffic management seemed very promising and forward-looking,
but in practice it is difficult to reconcile the blatant discrepancy
for the W2EM study, for example, between the findings of the relatively
wide-spread consultation process, which came up with overwhelming
support for public transport and other "soft measures"
and very little support for major spending on highway measures
(see two diagrams from the consultants' report overleaf) and the
consultant's conclusions that, in the W2EM region, for example,
a meagre £5 million should be spent on public transport,
but a staggering £1,011 on highways!
In view of the overwhelming public support for
transport measures that do not involve major expenditure on road
measures, the Government's decision to spend billions of pounds
of taxpayers' money on widening the M1 can only be described as
astonishing, not least because it also represents a complete U-turn
compared to the White Paper on transport, which, basically acknowledged
that we cannot build our way out of congestion!
Interestingly, in addition to the above-mentioned
inconsistencies, a recent DfT-commissioned report has cast serious
doubts on the modelling techniques underpinning the MMS programme
(see Appendix: copy of article from "Local Transport Today",
25 March 2004).
West to East Midlands Multi-Modal Study reveals
overwhelming support for investment in public transport and travel
The Government intends to spend
an estimated sum of over £3 billion on widening the M1 motorway.
The actual cost is likely to exceed this figure significantly.
Studies have shown that new
roads will simply attract more traffic until the congestion reaches
its former level.
The decision to spend such a
vast amount of taxpayer's money appears to be based, at least
in part, on dubious conclusions from studies that had in fact
indicated overwhelming public support for transport measures not
involving major expenditure on road infrastructure.
The proposed widening of the
M1 makes absolutely no contribution to the Government's target
of reducing carbon emission from the transport sector, in fact
it would make matters worse by attracting and generating even
The M1 widening scheme is very
short-sighted and cannot be regarded as an intelligent solution
that is fit for the 21st Century. The money earmarked for the
scheme should therefore be invested in alternative measures, for
example measures that would encourage people to travel less, that
could make a real contribution to climate protection.
The Environmental Audit Committee
should call for an immediate re-appraisal of the M1 widening scheme,
so that public opinion, the environmental impact, and a cost/benefit
analysis with regard to carbon emissions can be addressed properly