Four major transport improvements, including a runway extension at Birmingham International Airport and rebuilding of New Street Station, will be worth £3 billion to the regional economy, it has been announced.
But council and business leaders were told by West Midlands Minister Ian Austin that the upgrades must also deliver on the climate change agenda,
The Labour MP was in Birmingham as the West Midlands Regional Assembly gave an update on its Transport Action plan. Earlier this year, the Assembly had unveiled its nine priorities for improving the West Midlands transport network which would offer the greatest economic spin-offs and were funded and deliverable over the next few years.
Economists estimate the leading four, New Street Station, the International Airport runway extension, the installation of active traffic management on the M6, M5 and M42 and upgrade of rail freight lines will be a £3 billion money spinner for the economy.
The remaining smaller scale developments included improving links between the Black Country and Birmingham and the promotion of cycling and public transport alternatives to the car.
Mr Austin said: “We have a central location from which companies trade around the UK but we need a transport system which not only promotes economic growth but tackles climate change and congestion.”
When asked by Gerald Kells of the West Midlands Campaign for the Protection of Rural England about whether the aims of tackling climate change would play second fiddle to the drive for economic growth and new housing, the Minister argued they were not exclusive.
“We should not see reducing carbon emissions just as a cost. There are big opportunities for the West Midlands,” he said.