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Trolleybus scheme funds put plans back on track
Wharfedale and Aireborough politicians have hailed the Government’s decision to back a Leeds ‘trolleybus’ scheme to the tune of £173.5 million.
The long-delayed £250 million New Generation Transport plan, put together following the failure of an earlier Leeds supertram bid, will see a 14 kilometre network created in the city, served by electricity-powered trolleybuses.
The network would link two new park-and-ride sites at the north and south edges of Leeds, creating – supporters claim – a congestion-busting, environment-ally-friendly alternative to the car.
Although the proposed network wouldn’t stretch as far out as Aireborough or Wharfedale, it could help local commuters if, as has been suggested, it incorp-orates a park-and-ride site at Lawnswood, near Bramhope.
Leeds City Council also says the scheme will provide a £160 million annual boost to the local economy and create 4,000 new jobs.
Otley’s MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) said: “I am absolutely delighted that, after years of campaigning as a councillor, member of Metro – West Yorkshire’s integrated transport authority – and a Leeds MP, Leeds has finally got the go-ahead on a scheme that will bring to Leeds a modern, 21st century integrated transport system.
“During the past 21 years, Leeds has been passed pillar to post by the Department for Transport in successive governments and has been left with nothing, so it is fantastic we have finally got the investment and the scheme can get underway.”
Former Metro chairman Coun-cillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “This is excellent news for Leeds. No longer will we be the largest city in Western Europe without rapid transport. I would like to thank everyone involved in the long process.”
Metro chairman Councillor James Lewis (Lab, Kippax & Methley) said: “I’m delighted to announce that Metro and Leeds City Council have been given approval for their job-creating, economy-boosting, environment-improving, time-saving, carbon-reducing, congestion-busting NGT trolleybus scheme. This is great news for our region.”
About 3,000 park-and-ride spaces are planned, with 2,200 at Stourton, to the south of the city, and 800 at Bodington in the north.
Metro and Leeds City Council can now begin the process of obtaining the legal powers needed to operate a modern trolleybus network, which will be sought through a Transport and Works Act Order this autumn, followed by a public inquiry in 2013.
If all goes to plan, building work could begin in 2016, with the trolleybuses operating by 2018.