The M74 extension that should never have been built
Tomorrow morning (28 June), a minor member of the royal family will visit Glasgow to officially open the M74 northern extension, a five-mile, six-lane elevated urban motorway that Friends of the Earth Scotland has long opposed and that should never have been built.
A Public Local Inquiry into the project in 2005 considered the transport, environmental, business and community impacts of the new road and ruled against building it. The Inquiry report stated that building the road would have “very serious undesirable results” and that the economic and traffic benefits of the project would be “limited, uncertain and ephemeral”. Yet Scottish Ministers ignored the Inquiry report and approved construction anyway.
The opening of the new M74 northern extension will increase vehicle trips, air pollution and carbon emissions – the project’s own environmental statement confirms this. The building of the road is also completely at odds with the Scottish Government’s commitments to stabilise traffic levels and cut carbon emissions, and will do nothing to help Glasgow tackle its considerable air pollution problems in the run-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Scottish Ministers have recently stated, somewhat disingenuously, that the road has been completed under budget and ahead of schedule, and this has been unquestioningly reported by the media, yet the project has actually cost around three times its original budget and is opening years after it was first predicted to do so. There is also uncertainty regarding whether all
of the relevant and related costs have been included in the total cost being quoted by Ministers.
The massive amounts of money spent on the completion of this new road could and should have been better invested in improving Glasgow’s public transport services, such as local buses or cross-Glasgow rail services, particularly given that more than half of all households in Glasgow do not have a car. The new road does little or nothing for these households, which are largely in the poorer or less well-connected parts of the city.
The building of more and bigger roads in an attempt to tackle traffic congestion just doesn’t work. This new road will fill with traffic like every other road project before it, and will, in just a few short years, prove itself to be a right royal waste of a considerable amount of money.