Peak tunnel could create ‘new M62’ boost for Barnsley

The Woodhead Pass is the narrowest part of the Peak Park and is close to Barnsley
The Woodhead Pass is the narrowest part of the Peak Park and is close to Barnsley

A tunnel under the Peak District would place Barnsley right at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse - and could create ‘a new M62’.

Plans to link Manchester and Yorkshire via a road and rail tunnel may sound fanciful. But the logic is absolutely sound.

For the Powerhouse to work it must make travel between the northern cities quick and easy - especially the “golden triangle” of Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.

But while improvements to Manchester-Leeds links are relatively straightforward, east-west travel is hampered by the Peak National Park. And that isn’t about to go away.

A tunnel under its narrowest section could be the answer - and that makes its nominal exit point on the Yorkshire side somewhere in the hills above Barnsley.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton has gone one further and come up with a plan for a ‘new M62’.

It would see tunnel traffic join the Dearne Valley Parkway at Junction 36 and travel its full length to Hickleton before joining a new road to Marr - already being called the Hicky-Marr bypass - that would meet the A1. A new relief road running to the north of Doncaster would join the M18. The route from Hull or Scunthorpe to Manchester would be shorter and straighter than the M62.

Sir Steve said Barnsley and Doncaster councils had sent a report on the plan to Lord Adonis at the National Infrastructure Commission.

He added: “It gives a great economic rationale for the tunnel and would put Sheffield City Region on the map. The Peak District is great but we have got to find a way around it. Clearly it is a huge project but the economic impact would be huge.”