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Westminster Blog: A34 to South Sandwich Island

Newbury MP Richard Benyon on A34 safety and British penguins

Andy Murrill

Richard Benyon


01635 886625

Westminster Blog: A34 to South Sandwich Island

On Wednesday last week I met with neighbouring MPs, the A34 Action Group, Highways England, and others as part of our campaign to get improvements to the A34 between the Newbury junction of the M4 and the M40.

We discussed the keenly-awaited safety review that came from a commitment we got from the Roads Minister following the tragic multiple fatality accident of just over a year ago.

The report highlights just how out of date the A34 has become.

The configuration of slip roads, the size of lay-bys and many other features might have been suitable when the road was constructed but, with massively increased traffic and the changing face of transport generally, we can see what needs to be done now.

Safety is the main motivation for our campaign but statistics prove that the A34 is actually no more dangerous than most similar roads in the UK.

What is a factor is that traffic flows are increasing and even small shunts block the road for hours causing a big headache for business and the economy.

This is why the £27m that the Chancellor has allocated to the so-called Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, which will start at Junction 13 of the M4, will eventually deliver the big win.

I scuttled from this meeting to a packed Committee Room for the launch of my pamphlet Blue Belt 2.0.

This highlights many of the good things Britain is doing in ocean conservation around the world, particularly surrounding our Overseas Territories.

I then set out how this can be improved and how it can and should be seen as both an act of environmental responsibility and, crucially, global leadership.

One of my great frustrations has been that whilst other countries shout from the rooftops about much smaller acts of marine conservation, Britain lets it slip out with a press release.

I call the UK's oceans commitments "the love that dare not speak its name".

This all ended last week when the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson came along and gave it the UK Government's seal of approval with a typically barnstorming speech.

It turns out that one of his cultural heroes is the mayor in the film Jaws. Boris' point here (follow me if you can) was that the sea around the fictional town was as much a home for the shark as it was for people. Anyway it seemed to go down well with a room full of greenies.

The stat that surprised many and found its way on to national media was when I said that the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic are home to a quarter of the world's penguins.

So, yes, a quarter of all the penguins in the world are British.

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Article comments

  • Oldmoaner

    01/11/2017 - 22:10

    Am I right in my interpretation he is only fighting to improve access for people living north of the M4, who wants to go from the M4 to the M40. The slip junctions for his serfs on the south side are a lot worse than the northern section. The A34 from Winchester to the M4 is as bad as the northern section. So start at the M3 with proper junction's at Winnal, and the A303 and extra lanes for lorry overtaking on the hills.


  • Justin S

    01/11/2017 - 15:03

    27 million on the highways, will make about 10 ft of motorway infrastructure. Bargain . And in reality, who wants to go to Cambridge ? As said, we can sleep tonight knowing how many penguins are learning the national anthem..........


  • bruin the bear

    01/11/2017 - 12:12

    wasn't he the fisheries minister for 5 minutes?


    • EugeneStryker

      01/11/2017 - 15:03

      Yes, if you remember he was on Hugh Fernley Whittingstall's Fish Fight program and when asked to name some fish he mostly couldn't - he could probably identify a penguin though, you've got to give him that!


      • Justin S

        01/11/2017 - 16:04

        Probably say comes in a pack of 6 with a red wrapper.............


  • Ihavenonickname

    01/11/2017 - 11:11

    Brexit is leading the country to the brink, but wait, it's all going to be all right because a quater of the worlds penguins are British! Nice one Richard!