North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive is to consider long-term improvements to transport links across the county to help the region fully realise the economic benefits of the Northern Powerhouse.
County Council say that the 28,000 small businesses are the mainstay of its economy, but big business is also investing, for example in potash mining on the coast, Britain’s biggest power station at Drax and the world’s biggest wind farm at Dogger Bank.
The county makes acontribution to the Yorkshire and Humber region’s economy, with a Gross Value Added, the measurement of economic performance, of almost £12bn a year, 12 per cent of the region’s GVA.
However, there are challenges around transport links, and the County Council’s Strategic Transport Prospectus, which is to be considered by the Executive on 27 October 2015, sets out ways to address these. The Executive will consider a recommendation to endorse the strategy as a basis for engagement with Transport for the North, the statutory body that brings together local authorities from across the North.
The 30-year strategy sets out how the County Council would like to work with the Government, Transport for the North and the northern city regions to ensure improved transport connections.
It focuses on three priorities to address issues with transport links to the coast and across the Pennines. These are:
- improving east to west connections, including Trans Pennine links
- improving access to high-speed and conventional rail; and
- improving long-distance connections to the north and south
To address these priorities, the council has identified a series of road and rail improvements. These include:
- transforming the Leeds-Harrogate-York railway
- giving 85 per cent of the county’s population access to an HS2 high-speed rail hub within 40 minutes and 75 per cent access to a conventional railway station within 20 minutes
- new rail infrastructure to enable travel from Leeds to Newcastle in 60 minutes, with a first phase of Leeds to Harrogate in 15 minutes
- journey time reductions on the Scarborough to York line
- dual carriageway on the A64 between York and Malton to reduce journey times and improve reliability;
- a new A59 bypass of Harrogate
- overtaking lanes on the A59 between Harrogate and Skipton to improve journey times
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways and Public Transport, said:
Improving our transport links is vital for building on our strong economy. Our aspirations involve large scale, expensive projects, which are not affordable from normal County Council transport budgets. That is why we are looking at asking the Government for a small proportion of the funding available for the Northern Powerhouse to enable North Yorkshire fully to play its part.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Economic Development and Rail Strategy, who sits on the Transport for the North board, said:
Linking the economies of the city regions of the North will undoubtedly bring great economic benefits and hopefully create a powerhouse to rival London, but there are important ‘places in between’.
North Yorkshire is one of those. Though we are a rural county with a dispersed population in a big area, we have great ambitions.