22nd August, 2023
Northumberland Gazette, by Ian Smith

Pro-growth campaign group Britain Remade says the upgrade of the route between Morpeth and Ellingham would not only ease congestion but also support investment in Northumberland, boosting growth and unlocking much needed jobs across the region.

Every day 34,000 vehicles drive along the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham.

Plans to dual 13 miles of single carriageway were first unveiled by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014, but since then the plans have been hit with multiple delays despite £290m already being earmarked for the upgrade.

Originally the scheme was meant to get underway in 2019, but Highways England has pushed the project start date back again and again. Now the road upgrade is not expected to be completed until 2025.

However, the scheme still does not have permission to go ahead from ministers.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper was expected to give his decision in December 2022, but this was delayed a further nine months to September 5 following the publication of the Government’s Union Connectivity Review.

Research carried out by Britain Remade has shown that delivering new road projects, like dualling the A1, can happen at the same time as tackling climate change.

The research, which looked at the impact of Westminster’s main scheme for building and upgrading Britain’s motorways and major roads, found that adding 370 miles on new road increased CO2 emissions by just 0.1%.

They say it dispels the suggestion from environmentalists that the easiest way to cut carbon emissions is to stop building crucial new road infrastructure.

Sam Richards, founder and campaign director of Britain Remade, said: “It has been nine years since David Cameron first promised to dual the A1 between Morpeth to Ellingham.

"Enough is enough, it’s time to end the dithering and delay and give this hugely important scheme the green light.

“If we want to tackle climate change the answer is not kicking major road building schemes into the long grass or cutting them altogether.

"All this will achieve is more congestion, higher emissions and longer journey times, while strangling economic growth and job creation.

“Instead of dithering over new road projects, politicians should be working flat out to make it easier for drivers to switch to clean electric vehicles.

“The best way to do this is by cracking on with road building projects like dualling the A1 and lining them with a plentiful supply of charging stations.”

He continued: “To get more and more people to switch to EVs, powered by clean secure domestic energy, we need to get spades in the ground right now and get building our clean roads. That’s why Britain Remade is calling on the Transport Secretary to pick up his pen on September 5 and sign the consent order for the A1.”

To put pressure on the Government, Britain Remade has developed a tool at where people can write directly to the Transport Secretary to urge him to do approve the scheme.