Alliance against road building
Alliance against road building
”Widening roads to overcome congestion is like loosening our belts to solve obesity”, John Norquist, former Mayor of Milwaukee.
The 2006 Road Block national conference is happening on Saturday 10 June in central Birmingham. Booking is essential. Last year’s was very successful, with a great buzz, and people coming from as far apart as Aberdeen and Cornwall! This is the only opportunity for us all to get together as a movement, to learn from one another and share ideas, strategies and inspiration. We are booking up great workshop leaders to provide campaigners with invaluable skills and knowledge. Please book your place by emailing .
If weblinks don't work, simply cut and paste them into your address bar.
Next e-bulletin deadline is 13 April, so please send us your campaign news before then.
(1) Transport and climate news – Decisions ahead!; Transport, the Economy and CO2; Darling a bit confused; Stop Climate Chaos carbon-dating event; New briefings; Walking to the shops; Environmental Audit Committee inquiry; easyJet
(2) Campaign updates – Heysham - M6 Link (Lancaster Northern Bypass); Thames Gateway Bridge (London); Weymouth Relief Road (Dorset); Brownhills Eastern Bypass (Walsall); Mottram - Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District); Luton Northern Bypass (M1 - A6); Forth Bridge (Scotland); M6 Expressway / Widening (Staffordshire / Cheshire); A14 Fen Ditton – Ellington (Cambridgeshire); No Widening M1; Aberdeen Western Bypass; Tyne tunnel; Shrewsbury NW Relief Road (Shropshire); Kingskerswell Bypass (Devon); A127/A1159 Priory Crescent, Southend (Essex); A244 Walton Bridge (Surrey); A435 Studley Bypass (Warwickshire); Victory! Kidderminster, Blakedown and Hagley Bypass (Worcs)
(3) Events – Power Up - 19-21 May; Road Block national conference – 10 June; Railfuture Campaigners Conference – 1 July; Climate change camp - 26 Aug - 4 Sept 2006
(4) Take Action
The results of the Regional Funding Allocations and decisions on provisional approval of 12 new roads will be announced shortly after the 4 May local elections. Also they will be deciding on full approval and cost increases for others. These announcements will be a real test of the government’s commitment to reduce traffic, and if it really believes it oft-repeated mantra; “you cannot build you way out of congestion”. Look out for decisions on Lancaster, Brownhills, Southend, Derby, and Tunstall.
Transport, the Economy and CO2
Transport Trends 2005, was published by DfT on 26 Jan 06, demonstrating that since 1992 GDP has increased by 42 per cent compared with rises in overall travel of 16 per cent. The report concluded that “there had been some uncoupling of traffic and travel growth from economic growth”. It also stated that road transport accounted for 95% of all UK transport CO2 emissions (excluding international aviation) in 2003. You can view the report here
or ask for a hardcopy by emailing
Darling a bit confused
On 14 Feb Alistair Darling made a statement about measuring congestion hotspots. Whilst he helpfully said "Make no mistake, simply building more roads cannot be the answer", he then went onto boast about how much road building the government have done, and propose to do!
Road Block press release here http://www.roadblock.org.uk/press_releases/2006-02-14.htm
Stop Climate Chaos carbon-dating event
On 1 March, the Stop Climate Chaos carbon-dating lobbying event took place with over 650 campaigners lobbying 60 MPs simultaneously. See http://stopclimatechaos.org.uk/index.asp. The heads of the organisations that make up the Stop Climate Chaos alliance (WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Transport 2000 etc) met with Blair, Brown and Beckett the day before to call for a Carbon Budget. Road Block is a member of the SCC coalition.
New briefings on roads and the law, Public Inquiries and road pricing are available on the Road Block website here http://www.roadblock.org.uk/resources.htm
Walking to the shops
A new report by Sustrans has shown that retailers routinely over estimate how many of the customers arrive by car, by almost 100%. This could explain why there is so much unfounded hostility to proposed town pedestrianisation from retailers. See the Shoppers and how they travel report here
Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into transport and Climate Change
Well done to the GAME campaign against M6, Salisbury T2000, Save Swallows Wood, West Midlands CPRE, Leicester Friends of the Earth (M1) and Westbury who all put evidence into the EAC about road schemes and Climate Change. Road Block did too. Read it here http://www.roadblock.org.uk/publications.htm. Transport 2000 gave oral evidence, which included criticisms of the roads programme.
Spoof easyJet website
Within hours of easyJet announcing it was actually a ‘green’ airline as it had lots of new aeroplanes, a spoof website appeared - http://www.easyclimatechange.com/ - check out the links too!
Heysham - M6 Link (Lancaster Northern Bypass) – URGENT
Things are hotting up with this nightmare road that will damage countryside and harm communities. A decision on whether to approve and award funding will be made in May. Fortunately the Environment Agency have just objected to the planning application, which will mean a major scheme redesign, and the costs going up, with the government surely now unable to approve the current bid. Also English Heritage have made significant criticisms to the planning application about missing information, poor presentation and lack of vital detail, calling into question the competence of the county council. Lancaster City Council Planning Committee voted narrowly to support the application, but support for the road is dying away, with the MP Geraldine Smith notably against. If you haven’t already please object to the scheme here
http://heyshamm6link.info/html/archive.html#object, or on the Take Action pages of our website. More info on the marvellous Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) group is here http://heyshamm6link.info/ and please check the superb Alternative Solutions part of the website here
http://heyshamm6link.info/html/alternative_solutions.html which is a brilliant resource for all groups.
Thames Gateway Bridge (London)
As the Public Inquiry recommenced on 21 Feb, renowned transport academic Professor Phil Goodwin discovered in cross examination of Transport for London (TfL) that they had forgotten that the congestion charge in London had risen from £5 to £8, skewing their traffic model! More recent questioning by Prof Goodwin has also uncovered that TfL in their ‘do nothing’ model (without the bridge), had included all the traffic that would result from the new jobs and people if the bridge were built! The incompetence of TfL is astonishing, coming to a Public Inquiry for a £500 million project with an appraisal case so full of holes. It is also incredible TfL have not also withdrawn their proposal, or been required to do so by the Inspectors. The Inquiry had already been suspended from Nov 05 to Feb 06 while TfL rewrote much of its evidence due to faulty traffic data. Objectors have been given an unprecedented £65,000 by the Mayor to hire experts such as Prof Goodwin to present the case against the road in an attempt to redress the power balance (TfL have a £4m budget to promote the road!). If Objectors against every road scheme had this level of funding, perhaps we would find every road scheme is this full of holes? See http://www.nobridge.org.uk/
Weymouth Relief Road (Dorset)
Signs of panic at Dorset County Council, which has announced its planning committee will not consider the scheme until July – four months later than expected. The delay comes after a planning inspector recommended deletion of the scheme, one of the most destructive in the roads programme, from the West Dorset Local Plan (see RB Bulletin 11 Feb 06). The Countryside Agency continues to object to the road, despite being leant on by Defra minister and local MP Jim Knight, and business leaders. Objectors also include English Nature, the Woodland Trust, RSPB and more than 1,000 local residents. Dorset CPRE is watching with interest in case the council asks contractors to submit final tenders before the road goes before planners.
Brownhills Eastern Bypass (Walsall)
Staffordshire County Council (SCC) and Lichfield District Council (LDC) are both now officially opposing the Brownhills Eastern Bypass, to protect the Green Belt. Seeing as the road is being built across their land, this should ensure the Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council road cannot go ahead. The government have to make an approval and funding decision in May. See http://www.stonnal-scar.co.uk/
A628 Mottram - Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District)
On 31 Jan draft Orders for the A628 Mottram-Tintwistle bypass were published. Deadline for objections is 5 May - please send letters. For more info about the scheme impacts and guidelines for your objection letter and where to send it visit http://www.saveswallowswood.org.uk/lineorders.shtml or e-mail Emma from Save Swallow's Wood - . The mood in the area is turning. A local paper ran a phone poll asking people whether they wanted the bypass. A stunning 86% voted NO! A far cry from the 94% support that Councillors claim there is for the bypass. The Highways Agency exhibition has taken many local residents by surprise, and many who were on the fence are now questioning the scheme, especially with the sensible lorry ban proposal from CPRE. Other communities nearby are starting to realise what the road could mean and are also organising meetings. Campaigners have a programme of events over coming weeks, including exhibitions and walks. More information is on the website www.saveswallowswood.org.uk.
Luton Northern Bypass (M1 - A6)
The stakeholder consultations took place on 20 Feb, with a wide range of groups, most hostile to the road. The aim of the meeting was to look at which was the least bad of four road options – all routes between the A6 and A505 would damage the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, SSSIs, ancient woods and wildlife sites! The public transport option was quickly looked at, and then dismissed. The only accessibility talked about was road based accessibility, and the consultants admitted the bypass would not help congestion in central Luton. Local FoE campaigners were refused a copy of the report on the public transport alternative and so are using Freedom of Information rules to demand it. It is really important to challenge roads at this very early stage, in order to make sure that public transport alternative is not dismissed, and you are not then pushed into deciding between only road options. This one is going to be a battle!
Forth Bridge (Scotland)
Fury in Scotland as the Scottish Executive threw out plans for variable tolls on the Forth Bridge to reward car sharing and manage demand at rush hour. Transport minister Tavish Scott then proposed a second crossing to drive more traffic into the city. Both Brown and Darling supported these disastrous moves in the recent by-election campaign, calling into question their commitment to road pricing. The Scottish Executive also abolished tolls on the Erskine Bridge on the west of Scotland. The Forthright Alliance have recently reformed and have a petition to the Scottish Parliament - http://www.forthrightalliance.org
M6 Expressway / Widening (Staffordshire / Cheshire)
Government watchdogs,the Countryside Agency and English Nature, have strongly condemned the expansion proposals, saying the government should be investigating road pricing rather than expansion. The 14 Feb meeting produced a new North Staffordshire GAME (Group Against Motorway Expansion), based at Keele University, with their next meeting on 26 March. Public meetings are being set up along the 50 mile road route - Penkridge on 16 March, Tittensor on 21 March. Newcastle borough council have passed a resolution rejecting both widening and new motorway, and called on the HA to hold meetings showing the maps and consulting local people. The Highways Agency are meanwhile saying they won’t hold anymore presentations as they are overworked! There has been lots of local media coverage, and the campaign continues to build to defeat the plans, or fight tooth and nail if a "preferred option" is announced after the Highways Agency report in June. It is crucial to stop this new massive expansion of the M6, whether it is a new road or widening. To get involved email and see http://nom6e.blogspot.com/
A14 Fen Ditton – Ellington (Cambridgeshire)
The very brave residents in the Offords A14 Action Group Offords in Cambs decided at the 11th hour to lodge an application for leave to appeal at the Court of Appeal, after their Judicial Review was unsuccessful in January (see RB bulletin 15 Jan 06). Residents feel this decision was such a travesty they should appeal. The Highways Agency have not consulted residents over the route choice, nor produced a Non Technical Summary (required under EU law). See http://www.offordsA14actiongroup.co.uk
No Widening M1
A successful demonstration was held on 24 Feb outside the Highways Agency M1 widening exhibition in Luton. As this was their flagship exhibition, the media had been invited. Local FoE groups picketed the hotel, handing out leaflets to visitors and posing for media photos. The demonstration received local and regional media coverage. The Nottingham group is making links with people effected by other road schemes feeding into the M1 widening, and the Sheffield branch is busy with public meetings and media interviews. To get more involved see www.nowideningm1.org.uk or phone 07759 851073
Aberdeen Western Bypass
Massive opposition is mounting to the new preferred route announced in Dec 05, which has never been consulted on. The road would impact on wealthy suburbs, and residents have set up the Road Sense group. They have already leapt into action, hiring a QC to fight the road at the local plan inquiry. See Road Sense’s website at http://www.raidltd.co.uk/wpr/
A local resident’s Judicial Review challenge of the government’s decision to approve the scheme (RB bulletin 27 Nov 05) is scheduled for 5 April at the High Court in London. Well wishers are welcome. contact Nick Boldrini See .
Shrewsbury NW Relief Road (Shropshire)
Shropshire County Council’s Scrutiny Committee cautiously recommended that the road be included in the Local Transport Plan 2006-11, with the proviso that alternatives to roadbuilding must continue to be investigated. The full Cabinet accepted the recommendations on 24 Feb. The council are investigating bidding for TIF funding for a road pricing scheme, but with the road sneaked in too.
Kingskerswell Bypass (Devon)
No surprise to hear Devon County Council now estimates this three-mile horror will cost a staggering £108 million, up from £47 million when it was unveiled in 2002. Local taxpayers are unlikely to get much comfort from a Road Block freedom of information request, which discovered the council has so far spent £707,000 on preparatory work for what is rapidly turning into a costly white elephant. Fortunately, meanwhile, the council have just spent £125,000 on bus lanes, recognising that the bypass is unlikely to built in the next 15 years.
A127/A1159 Priory Crescent, Southend (Essex)
A Road Block freedom of information request to the Department for Transport revealed that the costs are now £20.504 million, up from £3.5 million when the scheme was first approved in 2000 – a 586% increase. The government will decide whether to award the extra funding in the May announcements. The camp is still there, and has lots of local support. See www.savepriorypark.org , or call .
A244 Walton Bridge (Surrey)
A long-discussed replacement bridge over the Thames, without the weight limit that was imposed on the old bridge until 2000, went to an Inquiry in Nov 2005 and Jan 2006. Prof John Whitelegg, called by the Walton Bridge Campaign, showed that HGV restrictions do not harm local economies. Local groups argued that the design is at odds with the traditional character of River Thames Bridges, and that lost riverside common land is not replaced by land of ‘equivalent amenity’ as the law requires. The scheme is provisionally approved, and has been made a regional priority by the South East.
Victory! A435 Studley Bypass (Warwickshire)
A trunk road plan, finally dead after 21 years of campaigning by the people of Sambourne, near Redditch, and CPRE. Despite the name, it was proposed as part of a dual carriageway from Birmingham to Tewkesbury ‘relieving’ the M5, its route being through unspoiled Green Belt, west of the National Trust’s Coughton Court. Soon after the Line Order was made in 1993, the DfT realised it was too large and costly, and it was deprogrammed in 1996, but revocation (cancelling) orders were delayed. Warwickshire CC wanted a ‘free road’ at Government expense and opposed them. After an Inquiry with the orders revoked in 2004, the Council went to Court, but withdrew in Nov 2005. Now Stratford and Redditch Local Plans are to delete the line.
Victory! Kidderminster, Blakedown and Hagley Bypass (Worcs)
This was a fiercely opposed road in the 1990s. Despite having gone through public inquiry in 1993, and being given the go-ahead in 1996, it was never built, and finally in 2006, the government are cancelling the Line Orders. Well done to West Midlands campaigners who also stopped a whole string of bypasses that would have created a Birmingham M25.
Power Up is a Friends of the Earth's Community Rights & Justice residential weekend on 19-21 May in Birmingham. Last year's was incredible. Come and learn all about how to use the planning system, how to use Freedom of Information, be inspired to take action, make a difference in your community. And it only costs £60 for the whole weekend. For info, email and see www.YourPlanningRights.co.uk
The 2006 Road Block national conference must not be missed! Gain skills, knowledge and inspiration and meet other campaigners. Starts 11am on 10 June in central Birmingham. Booking essential. Email
Railfuture Campaigners Conference on 1 July in Stoke-on-Trent.
A huge camp for action around climate change is being planned for the North of England from 26 Aug to 4 Sept. See http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/ and email if you want to get involved in working groups.
Object to the Mottram Tintwistle Bypass draft Orders - Draft Orders have been published for the horrific Mottram Tintwistle Bypass through the Peak District (see above), despite there being excellent alternatives. Please write an Objection letter.
Click here http://www.saveswallowswood.org.uk/lineorders.shtml to find out what to write and where to send it.
Object to the Heysham M6 Link (Lancaster) Planning Application - http://heyshamm6link.info/html/archive.html#object
Increase tax on 4x4s in budget - Research shows that CO2 from transport could be reduced by around 30% if buyers purchased the most fuel efficient cars. Email the Chancellor asking him to announce a new road tax band for gas guzzling cars in the Budget on 22 March. Go to http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/ved for more details and to send an email to the Chancellor.