South East transport ‘Missing Links’ put UK prosperity at risk

South East councils are calling on Government to invest in 5 strategic transport projects in the South East to ensure the continued growth and success of the UK economy. The Missing Links report details why targeted investment in the South East’s transport network is so vital and sets out 5 headline projects, which would unleash significant economic growth, reduce congestion and improve quality of life for millions.

Looking beyond administrative boundaries, Missing Links brings together the work of organisations from across the South East into a strategic, coherent transport improvement plan. The report comes from South East England Councils (SEEC), South East Strategic Leaders (SESL) and South East Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (SEDEEPT). It responds to a Government request for prioritisation of South East transport needs and asks Ministers to invest in key projects that will benefit the UK as a whole.

Better north-south routes and east-west connections are needed to improve national access to major South East ports and airports and link key economic centres. The 5 projects are:

*   A34/M3 and rail links to Southampton-Portsmouth from Oxford, West Midlands and beyond.
*   A2/M2 – links to the Channel Tunnel & Dover from London, the East, the Midlands and beyond.
*   A27/M27/A259 – from Dover to Southampton-Portsmouth, through developing coastal economies.
*   Oxford to Cambridge, including improved A34/M40 link.
*   North Downs Rail – from Oxford, through Reading and Gatwick Airport to Ashford in Kent.

Funding needs are beyond the means of local partners but without this investment congestion and overcrowding across the South East will increase. Congestion damages the UK economy by undermining South East businesses’ global competitiveness and increasing delays for commuters and residents. Lack of infrastructure investment also risks delaying delivery of new housing sites.

SEEC Chairman Cllr Nicolas Heslop said: “The South East is the world’s 30th biggest economy and home to major international transport gateways. Our Missing Links report provides a strategic solution to the ongoing problems of congestion and lack of capacity in the South East. Investment in these 5 strategic transport projects will ensure continued growth and prosperity of the South East and benefit the entire country.”

SESL Chairman Cllr David Burbage added: “We must invest in the South East’s existing economic success to reap the best returns for UK plc. With investment in these 5 projects we will be able to deliver excellent returns for the Exchequer that will more than repay Government’s initial investment.”