M65 extension plan ‘dead’

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Two leading politicians have described a proposal for a new trans-Pennine motorway linking Lancashire and Yorkshire as “pure froth” and a “red herring”.

Lib Dem peer and Pendle representative Coun Tony Greaves and County Coun Azhar Ali were responding to a report where leading politicians were calling for transport improvements including a proposal to extend the M65 to connect Colne and Keighley.

Some observers are increasingly concerned the Northern Powerhouse is focusing on a small number of expensive projects, such as a possible rail and road tunnel through the Pennines between Manchester and Sheffield.

While Coun Greaves shares those concerns, he has dismissed talk of a M65 extension. He said: “People can say what they want about it but it is pure froth.

“Lancashire County Council is the highways authority and Pendle Council is supporting its proposal for a bypass road connecting the M65 with the A56 around Foulridge.

“If that happens in the next 20 years I will be surprised but that is what people are pressing for.”

Coun Greaves added: “The Northern Powerhouse is just a slogan and one of its dafter schemes is putting a new tunnel to connect Manchester and Sheffield which would be the longest road tunnel in Europe.

“The car will have ceased to be a common mode of transport by the time that is completed.

“But an extension of the M65 is dead in the water and has been for 25 years. It’s not even worth discussing. There’s nowhere for it to go.”

Coun Ali said: “The Northern Powerhouse is quickly becoming the Northern Poorhouse. We have got HS1, HS2 and HS3 but George Osborne is just focusing on the big cities and not East Lancashire and outlying parts of West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.

“I think had the M65 been built right through all those years ago then the economic fortunes of Pendle may be very different but we are where we are.”