Transport improvements key to Alconbury Enterprise Zone success, says MEP

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Nigel Hugill from Urban and Civic and Jason Ablewhite, leader of Huntingdons

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Nigel Hugill from Urban and Civic and Jason Ablewhite, leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, on a visit to Alconbury Enterprise Zone. - Credit: Archant

UPGRADING road and rail infrastructure, including the A14, is crucial to the success of the Alconbury Enterprise Zone, an MEP said following his visit last week.

During a tour of the former US airfield, Geoffrey Van Orden, who represents the East of England, said he believed all previous concerns about whether the zone would work had been allayed.

The site could provide £2billion of construction work for up to 2,000 people over 15 years in addition to 8,000 permanent jobs after its completion.

However, for the site to achieve its full potential, better transport links, including an improved A14 and rail line with a train station at Alconbury, would be beneficial.

Huntingdonshire Regional College should also expand its range of courses to meet some the area’s new employment needs, he told The Hunts Post.

“If we’re going to create new employment, we will need young people who have got the skills,” Mr Van Orden said. “The enterprise zone will attract new business into the area, boost economic activity and create new housing.

“For all that to work properly, we’ve got to make sure the infrastructure is sufficient.”

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Mr Van Orden believes European Union funding could be available for the A14 upgrade – although it would be a limited to about £5m for “priming the pump, not construction”.

Mr Van Orden’s Conservative MEP colleagues have also written a joint letter backing a £9.6m bid for European money to help with increasing railway capacity on the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail line.

MEP Vicky Ford, who co-ordinated the letter, said: “This is part of a longstanding campaign to remove bottlenecks in our rail network and allow more freight to travel by rail.

“It is particularly important in helping to relieve pressure on congested roads, such as the A14.”