Report says economic benefits substantial of expanding link road

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The much discussed dualling of the A21 between Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge has been declared the best value road scheme in the UK, according to a new report.

The RAC Foundation, a charity which conducts research into road schemes and uses, says the stretch of road should be top of the pile when it comes to cash being released to fund projects.

The scheme was shelved until after 2015 after the Coalition Government called for a huge tightening of budgets as it looked to tackle the nation’s debts.

Initially costing £117m, Kent County Council has since approached the Government with a scheme which would cost the project at just £70m.

Now campaigners will be boosted by the latest report.

The RAC Foundation - together with consultancy group Arup - has identified 96 unfunded road schemes that are currently sitting on the Department for Transport’s shelves as part of its Keeping the Nation Moving report.

It says the economic benefits of building them would deliver significant returns - with the top ten projects all offering benefits of more than £6 for every pound invested. The A21, says the report, at its original £117m price tag, would deliver £11 for every £1 spent.

It compares that to the Government’s plans to spend millions on High-Speed 2 - a rail link from London to Birmingham, which it says would deliver a return of just £1.60.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The government talks about promoting growth, so why doesn’t it dust down its own files and make best use of taxpayers’ money by spending it on the 96 road schemes it has already judged to deliver fantastic returns?

“The currently unfunded schemes we have identified seem to tick all the right boxes yet government are turning a blind eye to them.

“So while a relatively few rich business men will benefit from a high speed rail link the majority of the population who have to drive to go about their business will find themselves in more and more congestion.

“The reality is that 91 per cent of passenger miles travelled take place on the roads, mostly in private cars; just eight per cent is by rail.”

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