Letter: Hepburn’s A1 myths

Stephen Hepburn MP (Shields Gazette, March 3rd) seems to be trying to perpetuate two A1 myths I thought long destroyed.  First, he implies that the A1 between Newcastle and Edinburgh is exceptionally dangerous.  However, the reality is less headline-friendly.  The Government’s North of Newcastle Multi Modal study concluded that the A1’s “…accident record is no worse than the national average for rural trunk roads.”  This is backed up by AA studies which rate the A1 as a ‘medium risk’ road, not even getting a mention on the AA’s list of Britain’s most dangerous.  Whilst this is no consolation for road accident victims, Mr Hepburn should note that all roads are dangerous.

The second myth, that the A1 as a single carriageway is hampering economic growth, is equally specious.  The same multi modal study found that “no evidence has been found to suggest wider economic development benefits would arise” from dualling the A1, and the Regional Assembly’s consultants Steer Davies Gleave reported that there is “…virtually no evidence that transport investment on its own can generate economic development”.

What is clear is that building more roads feeds the increase in car usage, bringing with it the attendant rise in carbon dioxide emissions.  On a planet facing the challenges of climate change, building more roads is unsustainable and irresponsible.

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