Research

Bath researchers advise House of Commons on a new M4 junction

Report authors (l-r) Marc Betton and Dr Phil Tomlinson

Report authors (l-r) Marc Betton and Dr Phil Tomlinson, who spoke at the House of Commons launch

Academics from our School of Management have identified a clear business and social case for a new motorway junction at Emersons Green, east of Bristol.

Their report was launched at the House of Commons by the Gateway2Growth campaign – an action group made up of MPs, business leaders and local supporters. The group is calling for a new M4 link to provide easier access to Emersons Green and accommodate significant growth planned for the area.

Reduced congestion costs and a better work-life balance

Dr Phil Tomlinson, Associate Professor in Business Economics and researcher Marc Betton highlighted six key economic benefits of the new link road, to be situated between junctions 18 and 19 of the M4.

They concluded that if supported with government investment, the new junction 18A would:

  • Reduce congestion costs and current transport related constraints upon businesses at Emersons Green
  • Attract new business investment and highly skilled employment to the Emersons Green Enterprise Area, particularly in high tech industries
  • Enhance the potential for the Bristol & Bath Science Park (of which the University is a partner) to become a regional hub for science, research and innovation 
  • Improve the flexibility and participation of the labour market due to easier commuting
  • Improving the work-life balance of commuters and local residents by reducing journey times in and out of Bristol
  • Significantly reduce the impact of traffic on inappropriate alternative routes currently being used

motorway traffic

Broad level of agreement from key stakeholders

Dr Tomlinson said: “One of the key findings of the report was the level of agreement from all stakeholders about the need for this investment. Emersons Green is an area with significant growth ambitions, with thousands of jobs projected and new homes being built.

“Some of businesses we spoke to said they would consider moving from the area without this investment and the ability to attract new companies could be constrained without it.

“The proposal promises to reduce congestion, realise the potential of Bristol and Bath Science Park and the Enterprise Area and enhance the development and vitality of the high-tech cluster on the site.”

Why locate the junction at Emersons Green?

The Emersons Green Enterprise Area has been identified as a key area for economic growth over the next 12 years with up to 7,000 jobs predicted to be created.

The area has a growing residential community and a number of prominent businesses are already based here, such as Bristol and Bath Science Park, AirBus, Harlequin Office Park and the National Composites Centre.

Chris Skidmore MP, one of the leaders of the campaign, said: “There has been significant economic development in this area and we need a road infrastructure to cater for this growth and the future development that is expected here. I have been leading the campaign for the new 18a link since entering Westminster and the need for a new road link is becoming more pressing than ever if we are to maximise the area’s economic potential and minimise future congestion for people living and working here.”

MP: Academic report key in making the case

House of Commons launch

(l-r) MPs Chris Skidmore, Ben Howlett and Luke Hall with Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP and report authors Dr Phil Tomlinson and Marc Betton

The initiative has cross party backing, support from regional businesses and has already been debated in parliament and highlighted during Prime Minister’s questions earlier this year.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for investment in these critical road improvements for the area.

Chris Skidmore MP said: “The University’s report sets out a clear and pressing need for investment in a new junction, on a number of fronts. It is a significant step in the Gateway2Growth campaign, which is building momentum with a clear consensus on business and social benefits for the region, commuters and businesses.”

The School of Management was ranked 8th in the UK in the independently-assessed Research Excellence Framework. 89% of their submitted case studies were deemed to have an outstanding or very considerable impact.

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