Press release

A1 north of Newcastle now route of strategic national importance

The A1 north of Newcastle joins a key list of nationally important roads.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The A1 north of Newcastle to the Scottish border has been made a route of strategic national importance following a consultation, Regional and Local Transport Minister, Norman Baker, announced today (23 May 2011).

The move sees approximately 65 miles of the A1 join a key list of nationally important roads.

It is part of the government’s move to ensure the economic importance of routes from England to the capital cities of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are properly recognised.

A number of roads linking Bootle with 12 Quays ferry terminal in Birkenhead, Merseyside, will also become a route of strategic national importance. This is because it is the main passenger and freight ferry terminal for traffic travelling between Liverpool and Belfast.

Norman Baker said:

The important changes I am announcing today will ensure the economic importance of routes from England to Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff are properly recognised.

The changes are of particular significance for the A1 north of Newcastle where campaigners have long fought to have the route recognised as being of national importance.

While it does not guarantee funding - any proposed upgrade would need to be subject to the usual decision making processes - it finally recognises the road’s importance for freight and other strategic traffic travelling between Newcastle and Edinburgh.

In 2009 fourteen Strategic National Corridors (SNCs) were identified by the Department for Transport - recognising the economic importance of road and rail routes linking the largest English cities with the busiest ports and airports in England.

However, the criteria set out at that time did not specify that key road and rail routes providing links between Newcastle and Edinburgh, Liverpool and Belfast or Bristol and Cardiff should be included.

In practice Cardiff is linked to Bristol via the M4 and M48, which are already recognised as routes of strategic national importance. But Edinburgh and services to Belfast were unconnected to SNCs by road, and today’s changes rectify this.

A number of other changes to the SNCs were proposed by consultation respondents, including extensions to the SNCs which would affect Norfolk, Devon and Kent. Ministers will not make a final decision on the scope and role of the SNCs until the local enterprise partnerships - and their role in transport decision making - are fully established.

Notes to editors

A written ministerial statement was published today.

The consultation closed on Friday 10 December. In total 63 responses were sent directly to the department.

As a result of the changes two additional routes will be recognised in future as being of national strategic importance

The A1 north of Newcastle - between its junction with the A19 at Seaton Burn - to the Scottish border (providing a defined link to Edinburgh)

Approximately nine miles of Local Authority controlled roads between Bootle and 12 Quays ferry terminal in Birkenhead, including part of the A565 and the Kingsway Tunnel (providing connectivity with Belfast).

The full route is as follows:

  • A565 from junction with A5036 in Bootle to A5063 “Leeds Street” then
  • A5063 “Leeds Street” from junction with A565 to A59 “Scotland Road” then
  • A59 “Scotland Road” to “Kingsway Tunnel”; then “Kingsway Tunnel” to grade separated junction with A5027 then
  • A5027 to junction with A5139 then
  • A5139 to A554 then
  • A554 to 12 Quays terminal entrance

The A1 north of Newcastle is currently a Highways Agency (HA) ‘regional’ road. It will now become a HA ‘national’ road, and this will be taken into account in decision-making and planning from this point forward.

The route identified in Merseyside will not be added to the trunk road network. Responsibility for day-to-day operational decisions, maintenance and improvement will remain with the relevant local Highway Authorities (either Sefton, Liverpool or Wirral councils, or for the Kingsway Tunnel, Merseytravel). The Secretary of State for Transport will, however, maintain a watching interest in the route and its effectiveness in providing strategic connectivity.

A number of proposals for changing the scope of the SNCs were received. These included requests that they be extended to Plymouth and Norwich, and that a second SNC be extended to Dover. The Department intends to revisit the scope of the SNCs, as well as their exact role in decision-making, once the local enterprise partnerships are fully established and their role in transport decision-making is clear.

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Published 23 May 2011