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Motorway Service Areas: Leasehold

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 100968, tabled on 8 October 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with operators of state-owned motorway service areas on renewing their leases.

Answered on

13 October 2020

In November 2018 and March 2019 ministers met all three operators who directly hold leasehold interests, MOTO, Welcome Break, and Roadchef, to seek their general views about the options on expiry of the current lease for the state-owned Motorway Service Area (MSA) sites. There has also been frequent engagement between the operators and officials regarding site improvements.

In September this year, Baroness Vere met Roadchef, to hear their current proposals for lease renewal. Topics discussed included the option of agreeing an extension to the lease well in advance of the earliest lease expiry dates in 2030, which would provide a longer tenure in which the operators could invest to modernise the ageing sites, including the upgrades to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, provision of additional HGV parking.

Ministers are considering which approach will secure best value for the taxpayer and enhance the experience for future road users and have requested that the operators work with officials to help understand how the timelines for each option could affect the timing of any investment.

In the March 2020 Budget, the Government announced the Rapid Charging Fund was announced as part of a £500 million commitment for EV charging infrastructure.

It will be available to fund a portion of costs at strategic sites across the strategic road network where upgrading connections to meet future demand for high powered chargepoints would be prohibitively expensive and uncommercial. Timing and process for delivery of this funding will be confirmed in due course.

The Government will be working with the operators of MSAs to ensure that charging provision is in place ahead of customer demand. The aim is to help support early adoption of electric vehicles and remove range anxiety concerns for drivers on long journeys.

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