Two weeks ago I went to Ireland to speak at a meeting against what seemed like a crazy road scheme, a 50 mile dual carriageway through County Tyrone in Northern Ireland but it links two parts of the Republic, Donegal and Dublin. It is half funded by the Republic, to the tune of £400m, with the rest coming from Westminster.
I have written about it in the forthcoming Transport Times and everything I found out there reaffirmed my view that this was the type of road project which simply could no longer be built on the mainland because it would elicit too much opposition and simply does not accord with this more environmentally-sensitive age. The A5 road it is designed to replace is by no means particularly congested and it would only save 20 minutes off the journey from Dublin to Donegal, for a cost of £800m.
I did wonder how the scheme,which apparently has a pretty modes benefit cost ratio of just 1.7 could possibly have passed the tests required to get Treasury approval. I wondered, too, why the Department for Transport was supporting it and now I have learnt that it has nothing to do with the UK Department for Transport as it was devised by the Northern Ireland roads service and pushed through as a result of the St Andrews peace agreement. I just happened to mention the road to Lord Adonis the other day and he told me it was the first he had heard of it! I suspect the same is true of Philip Hammond, who, at least, will read about it in Transport Times and perhaps he will manage to persuade the Treasury that it would not be money well spent. Remember joined up government? What a laugh.