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Leeds trolley-bus project proves a switch-off

Published: Friday, 20th May 2016

Transport Secretary refuses controversial proposals for a trolley-bus project as part of the £250m Leeds New Generation Transport Scheme...

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has refused controversial proposals for a trolley-bus project in Leeds proposed by the city council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The £250m Leeds New Generation Transport Scheme (NGT) involved plans for a trolley-bus service between Leeds city centre and Stourton vie Belle Isle in the south and between the city centre and Holt Park via Headingley in the north with associated park and ride sites near the M621 (at Stourton) and the Leeds Outer Ring Road at Bodington.

The project was the subject of a proposed Order under the Transport and Works Act and a number of proposed conservation areas and listed building consents.

The inspector who held a public inquiry into the scheme accepted there was a strong need to improve public transport along the NGT corridor to ensure continued economic growth and prosperity for Leeds but was not convinced that the NGT scheme would be a cost-effective or the best way to meet those objectives.

The Secretary of State agreed. His decision letter highlighted concerns over harm to heritage assets “some of which would be substantial”; the loss of trees and open space; the harm to visual amenity; the overall negative impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions; the likely effects of the scheme on the provision of bus services “and the extent to which the heritage and environmental harm would conflict with local and national planning policies.”

McLouhlin also accepted there were doubts about the operational viability of the scheme, its integration with the rest of the local transport network, likely levels of patronage and possible harm to local businesses.

The SoS agreed with the inspector that the Order wasn’t justified and that a compelling case in the public interest had not been made for the powers sought by the public authorities.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “NGT would have brought significant economic benefit to Leeds as well as tackling the congestion and unacceptable travel times on one of the main routes into the city.

“We now need to work out, alongside Central Government, how to use the £173.5m earmarked for Leeds to provide better transport, help people move around the city and improve its air quality.”

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Roger Milne