Leeds City Council said it has been ‘let down’ again after transport secretary Patrick McLouglin rejected its longstanding attempts to build a £250m trolleybus scheme.
What the trolleybus might have looked like
The council was seeking permission under the Transport and Works Act (TWA) 1992 to create a 14.8km New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus network between the city centre and sites to the south and north of the city, with associated park and ride facilities.
But Department for Transport (DfT) officials, acting on Mr McLouglin’s behalf, upheld the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, which said last year that the application should be turned down.
Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: ‘It’s a relief to everyone concerned that a decision has finally been made, although the length of time taken to get there has been very frustrating. Leeds has been let down by successive Governments in Whitehall on transport, first Supertram and now with NGT. Each occasion setting public transport in the city back many years.
‘I’m pleased Leeds will still be allocated the funding and look forward to working with our partners to bring forward the public transport improvements Leeds so desperately needs as quickly as possible.’
In his decision letter, Martin Woods, head of the DfT’s TWA Orders Unit, noted that the inspector had accepted that there was a strong need to improve public transport in Leeds to attract a modal shift, including along the NGT scheme corridor, but was not ‘convinced that the NGT scheme would be a cost-effective way of meeting that need or was the best way to meet those objectives’.
The inspector had also found that, although the NGT scheme would be likely to provide a quicker alternative to existing bus services, the council ‘had not shown that it would result in any significant improvements in congestion or any increase in active modes of transport such as cycling’.
In 2012, the then transport secretary Justine Greening gave her backing to the scheme, with central government funding of up to £173.5m.