Alliance against road building
Alliance against road building
Please send us your roads news for the next e-bulletin - deadline 11 Aug. If you value our work, please consider setting up a small standing order (suggested £2 a month) to support us. Details of how to contribute are on our website.
(1) Campaign updates – Stonehenge (Wiltshire); M6 Expressway (Cheshire); Second Tyne tunnel (Tyne and Wear); Thames Gateway Bridge (London); Durham 'Relief' Road; Derby HEART; Lancaster Northern Bypass; Brownhills Eastern Bypass (Walsall); Camelford Distributor Road (Cornwall); Kingskerswell Bypass (Devon); Thorpe Underwood Road (North Yorkshire)
(2) Transport news – Road costs lies exposed by CPRE; 5 year Local Transport Plans go in; Regional and local traffic growth; Guidance on funding for regional roads; Jeremy Clarkson; Heathrow noise action
(3) Take Action - Westbury Bypass - letters needed
(4) Events - Local Transport Plan training day; International Demo against Climate Change - 3 Dec; Art not Oil exhibition; Power Up 2005
Stonehenge - good news at last!
On 20 July, the government announced that they were not going to go ahead with the A303 dual carriageway and tunnel under Stonehenge, and were ordering a 'detailed review of all the options'. This was despite the inquiry inspector (the same one sitting at the Thames Gateway Bridge inquiry - see below) recommending the scheme go ahead. The reason was that costs on the scheme had gone up 65% to reach £470 million. Save Stonehenge! said that the road was "a thinly disguised, old-fashioned road-widening scheme and part of a much bigger project to construct a huge new Euro-route from London to Exeter. Putting a motorway through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site is like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa. This was always a quick and dirty motorway scheme pretending to be an archaeological improvement. It was Jeremy Clarkson dressed up as Tony Robinson. It would have scarred one of the world's most important landscapes for all eternity." Everyone must now make sure that the government doesn't go for an even worse, but cheaper road scheme. See http://www.savestonehenge.org.uk/press.html
M6 Expressway - the 'con' in consultation
On 19 July, the government announced that there was 'no consensus' after the M6 Expressway (M6E) consultation, and work was to progress on the scheme. This was after 98% of the 9528 respondents said they didn't want the road! As Friends of the Earth said "what bit of 'consensus' do they not understand?". The proposed 50 mile tolled motorway, ribboning through the Staffordshire and Cheshire countryside (it is myth it is 'parrallel'), is a huge step backwards, and must be stopped. The government have not learnt from the failed M6 Toll road round Birmingham, after traffic has increased on the existing M6, which it was designed to relieve. CPRE, FoE and local residents groups are opposing the M6E. See http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/m6_expressway_98_against_29072005.html
Second Tyne Tunnel (Tyne and Wear)
The Government’s decision to back a second road tunnel under the Tyne, at Jarrow, seems peculiar given some of the things a planning inspector had to say about the £139 million project. He found the tunnel would substantially increase the number and length of car journeys; there was nothing to prevent more cars using the existing Tyne crossings; there would be little chance of better bus services; and the project would detract from Government policies to promote sustainable communities. Despite this, he recommended the scheme should go-ahead, which this road mad government dutifully did! More info at http://www.tyne-crossing.org/
Thames Gateway Bridge (London)
The public inquiry is still running, with some useful information coming out of it. The Mayor of London has just tried to bribe Bexley Council to stop opposing the road with an extra £3.1 million of mitigation. They turned it down, alongside the offer of new traffic modelling. Apparently Transport for London are relying on traffic modelling figures from 1991! Apparently the Mayor also suggested to Bexley Council that they introduce congestion charging to 'deal with' the trebling of traffic that will be seen on some of the local roads as a result of the motorway bridge! Maybe it might be better to just not build the £500 million traffic generating motorway? See http://www.nobridge.org.uk/
Durham Northern Relief Road
The campaign against the road is stepping up, with the launch of a new campaign website. At a packed public meeting on the state of city, speaker after speaker spoke against the road, with the Head of the City Council repeating his anger about the lack of consultation by the County Council. Leaflets advertising the new campaign website were distributed, but funny how on the launch date the site was 'down' for mysterious reasons... See http://www.savethevalley.org.uk/ The scheme would trash countryside around Durham, and local residents have variously been told it would either demolish or 'pass near' an entire terrace of houses.
Despite a 75% (£16m) increase in costs over the last two years, and a £7m shortfall in funding this increase, Derby City Council have pressed on with their outdated 'Connecting Derby' scheme. They are now robbing the annual LTP budget, taking money from cycle and walking schemes. £2m is also going to be stolen from a Park and Ride scheme, funded under a Section 106 agreement. A legal challenge is being considered to this action. Recently under the guise of Health and Safety for a archaeological dig, they clear felled a wide area of woodland. When challenged to produce the site risk assessment to justify it, none was produced. Local residents have also been prosecuted for displaying anti-road placards on their property. They are appealing their convictions.
Lancaster Northern Bypass
80 local residents from the Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe group formed a 'human road' to show how destructive the road would be. They lined up to show the width of the road, and held up 16ft poles to visually demonstrate how destructive the concrete flyover would be to the open fields at Broadoak Corner. Their action received very good support locally and great local media coverage. See http://heyshamm6link.info/ for campaign info, and great photos in the new Gallery section of the Road Block website - www.roadblock.org.uk/gallery.htm
Brownhills Eastern Bypass (Walsall)
A joint bid for funding has also gone in to Government Office for the West Midlands (GOWM) for the Brownhills Eastern Bypass, vigorously opposed by the formidable Stonall Campaign Against the Roads (SCAR). This is despite the fact that Lichfield District Council are saying that they will never give up their Green Belt land for Walsall MBC to build over! See http://www.stoptheroads.co.uk/ for more info on the campaign. Local anti-road MP, Brian Jenkins, is addressing the next campaign meeting. SCAR have also won over the leader of Lichfield District Council who was previously pro-road... it can be done!
Camelford Bypass (Cornwall)
The County Council have just put in a bid for funding for the scheme, and now all attention is on the regional government office who will make the decision whether to approve funding. The scheme will go through a Special Conservation Area (SAC) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and English Nature have put so many conditions on the scheme that the costs have gone escalated from £6.9 million to over £14 million. The local Chamber of Commerce also oppose the scheme.
Kingskerswell Bypass (Devon)
Devon County Council, as expected, has voted to back this loopy scheme. Long serving councillor Roger Giles, one of two who voted against, told the development control committee: “I have seen very many planning applications in my time but I have to think very hard to recall any application which would result in environmental damage on such a huge scale. What we are being asked to approve runs counter to so many Government policies and to our own policies”. It also emerged council officers agreed, during the private part of the recent site visit (see RB bulletin 2 July), that inadequate mitigation for wildlife displaced by the road was “a weakness” of the scheme. No surprise members of the public had been forbidden from joining councillors on their tour of the route. More info at http://www.kingskerswellalliance.org.uk/
Thorpe Underwood Road (North Yorkshire)
Meanwhile, some good news… This privately-funded little horror has been abandoned after North Yorkshire County Council saw the error of its ways. Landowner Thorpe Underwood Services wanted to build the £800,000 road (£50,000 coming from the tax payer) to the Thorpe Underwood Estate, devastating local landmarks along the way. The council’s initial enthusiasm waned in the face of a vigorous local campaign. More info at http://www.stop-the-road.co.uk/
A127/A1159 Priory Crescent, Southend
A bid for funding has gone into the government office. This very locally unpopular scheme would trash an Anglo Saxon King’s burial mound, part of Priory Park, and 113 trees. Costs for the less than 1km road have gone up to £11 million. Local residents have promised direct action should the government give the go-ahead.
Road costs lies exposed by CPRE!
Fantastic work has been done by CPRE on costs of roads going through the roof. For years local authorities have been putting in deceitful bids for funding to the government for schemes, where the benefits have been greatly exaggerated, and the costs under-estimated. The Highways Agency have been doing the same thing for trunk roads. CPRE had Parliamentary Questions asked and have produced a very useful list of road schemes where the costs have gone up. This is just in time for campaigners to use against schemes their council are working on now for the Local Transport Plans. See http://www.cpre.org.uk/news-releases/news-rel-2005/47-05.htm
5 year Local Transport Plans go in!
85 local authorities around the country will be submitting their 5 year plans to the government offices today. Road Block will be assessing them to see how many road schemes are planned, but would appreciate any help from activists on the ground. Early indications are that lots of very damaging road schemes are planned, and it is now up to the government to draw a line in the sand, and not give any more go-aheads. Meanwhile campaigners have until March to lobby to have the roads thrown out by the time the final versions have to be in.
Regional and local traffic growth
Research by the Lib Dems has revealed how much traffic is growing both regionally and locally, and who are the worst offending local authorities, based on government statistics issued on 7 July. Please contact us for a copy of the press release. See http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_transstats/documents/page/dft_transstats_027414.hcsp for the original statistics.
Guidance on funding allocations for regional road schemes
Treasury and DfT produced a dull sounding, but important paper called "Regional funding allocations: Guidance on preparing advice" apparently in an effort to stop the regional assemblies producing wish lists of schemes.
It is found here http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk./media/38B/05/RFA_Guidance__210705.pdf
Don't forget to sign the petition to oppose the anti-social, anti-environmental 'petrol-head' receiving an honorary degree from Oxford Brookes University.
Heathrow noise action
Local residents gave Rod Eddington, the outgoing chief of British Airways (BA), a taste of his own medicine by waking him with a PA playing aircraft noise at 5am on the morning of the BA AGM. Residents have had to suffer with increasing night flights for many years. BA is aggressively lobbying for expansion of Heathrow airport, but is facing determined resistance from the local residents. Meanwhile at the AGM, shareholders were furious as their lunchboxes and sandwiches were confiscated, no doubt after the Alistair Darling 'carrot cake incident' when he was found supporting a Heathrow expansion lobby group (see RB e-bulletin 2 June). See http://hacan.org.uk/news/press_releases.php?id=121 for more info on the noise action.
Westbury Bypass (Wiltshire)
The consultation period for planning application for this road has been extended and now ends on 5th August. This has given NIMBY pro-road campaigners time to get more letters in, and the campaign are calling for more anti-letters. If you haven't already objected, please do so by going to http://www.roadblock.org.uk/action.htm and sending in the standard letter, or better still writing your own. This scheme is really destructive, is opposed by the Environment Agency, English Nature and the Westbury Bypass Alliance.
Local Transport Plan training days
These days are for activists to compare their local authority's draft 5 year LTPs, and share campaign strategies.
LONDON - 1 October, see http://transport2000.org.uk/diarydates/maintainDiaryDates.asp?DiaryDateID=413
MANCHESTER - 15 October, see http://transport2000.org.uk/diarydates/maintainDiaryDates.asp?DiaryDateID=414
International Demonstrations on Climate Change - 3 Dec
Demonstrations will be happening all over the world on 3rd December to support the Kyoto protocol as the US and others are trying to weaken it. There will be a large demo in London whilst the UN climate talks are happening in Montreal. See http://www.globefox.com/cacc/globalclimatecampaign.html
ART NOT OIL exhibition
This will take place from August 5-28 at Oxford House, Derbyshire St., London E2 6HG. Nearest tube Bethnal Green tube.
PowerUp 2005 - 5-7 Aug
Get completely clued up about how to use the planning system, and the new freedom of information laws, and much more, at this Friends of the Earth 2 day residential. Booking essential. See http://community.foe.co.uk/resource/news_articles/00000168.html