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Green light for South Hampshire Tram - at last

Transport Minister Keith Hill has announced that the GBP190m light rail system for South Hampshire has been given the green light. He said:

"This light rail scheme will reduce traffic congestion, improve access to the Gosport and Portsmouth peninsulas, and boost the regeneration of those areas.

"The project will be a good example of the accessible, integrated and environmentally sound light rail systems which we promised in our 10-Year Plan for Transport."

This scheme is the first phase of proposals for improving public transport in South Hampshire by providing an integrated network of light rail, heavy rail and bus services.

Powers will be given to Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council by way of an Order under the Transport and Works Act. Planning permission is to be given for the development provided for in the Order, subject to conditions.

In March 1998, Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council applied for powers under the Transport and Works Act 1992 (TWA) to construct and operate this light rail system between Fareham and Portsmouth. They also sought deemed planning permission for the works.

The proposals were considered at a public inquiry between February and March 1999. The Inspector (Mr W B Thrush) concluded in his report of the inquiry that the scheme was fully justified on its merits. The Secretary of State has now decided to accept the Inspector's recommendations to make the TWA Order (with some modifications) and to grant planning permission, subject to conditions.

The Secretary of State has also decided today to grant listed building and conservation area consents required in connection with the project.

Brian Lomas - the LRTA Development officer comments:-
The above information from the DETR press release is very welcome although one must wonder why it took over 2 years from the end of the inquiry to the release of the result of the inspectors report. Delays of this duration inevitably lead to increased costs and if trams are to play an effective role in revitalising public transport then the procedure needs to be speeded up considerably.

8 May 2001

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