Alliance against road building
Alliance against road building
Road Block e-bulletin * 28 Feb 2007
Road Block is proud to be part
of the sustainable transport body Transport 2000
as from 1 January 2007. Road Block will still operate as the network
of local community groups but as a project of
- Visit the Roadblock website
** Demonstration against the
M3 through the Hill of Tara in
** Object to the draft
orders for the A628 Mottram to Tintwistle Bypass
** Respond to the A14 preferred route consultation - see below
** Prevent the East of England Plan being watered down on traffic reduction
** Ask the government to throw out the Harlow North plan out the East of England Plan
** Sign the Downing Street online petition against roadbuilding - "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to scrap the £12 billion road building programme and invest the money in public transport and making cycling and walking more attractive to reduce CO2". Sign up here
** Sign the
It's been a busy few weeks for
Road Block and
The government is set to reject some of the brilliant recommendations of the East of England independent panel who examined the regional plan. Please respond to the consultation by 9 March. The East of England regional plan is the first one to go before the government and so it is very important it is not watered down. Remember, a plan like this is coming to your region soon so this consultation provides a unique opportunity to set a precedent for what the Secretary of State can expect when she fails to accept necessarily radical aims for regional transport policy in the context of climate change. In June 2006 the Panel recommended that reducing traffic growth and CO2 should be at the heart of the region's plans (see RB bulletin 26 June 06). However minister Ruth Kelly has rejected this as "unrealistic" and wants to water it down. Please respond online. It’s simple and takes just 1 minute, but please do so before 9 March as the consultation closes then.
Research published in the Lancet
medical magazine shows that exposure to traffic pollution stunts
children's lung development. Researchers at the
Yet another report has come out that has concluded that the Newbury Bypass was a total failure, making this now the fourth report to come to this conclusion! The latest report was by Trafficmaster who look at national congestion levels. They examined term-time traffic and found that Newbury had the third worst school-related congestion in the country. Opponents of the bypass in the 1990s argued strongly that congestion was caused principally by local traffic and that the bypass would make little difference to the town whereas improvements to public transport would.
For more information, see the BBC online.
Expect the enormous cost of roads to hit the news soon with the imminent publication of two important reports. The first is a DfT commissioned report by ex-DfT official Mike Nichols, looking only at rising costs of Highways Agency schemes. Ahead of the report's publication, the Head of Procurement at the HA has left whilst just last week the Head of Major Projects was given the push! The second report will be the conclusions of the National Audit Office one year investigation into rising costs of HA projects, but also local authority road schemes. This will be looking at ways that cost increases are managed, so expect the DfT to come in for criticism too. Roads Block has been investigating and highlighting rising roads costs, discovering that the DfT will approve the schemes at a lower price, then the true costs are revealed as the scheme goes through the planning process but by that time the political momentum builds, and ministers have never rejected a scheme because of increased costs, whilst cancelling many tram schemes for this reason. Road Block has created a new page on its website highlighting this issue. Just recently the A14 scheme has increased from £490m to £617-714m (depending on route choice). Whilst the A120 Braintree to Marks Tey scheme has leapt up another £50 million from £320 to £370m.
The inspiring and very effective
Transport Solutions for Lancaster
and Morecombe (TSLM) group scored an important victory on 9 Feb
07 as the government agreed to 'call-in' the planning application
for a full independent public inquiry. Call-ins are very rare nowadays
so this was a very significant turn of events and bodes well for the
government's decision on funding for the £137 million scheme, which
the DfT have sat on for over 18 months! Lancaster County Council admit
the road will release an extra 24,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in
to the atmosphere every year, one of the worst schemes in the country.
Meanwhile documents obtained through Freedom of Information reveal
that the original claim that the road would generate 6014 new jobs
have been exaggerated by 70 pre cent! The council now claim that the
road would only bring 1822 jobs, which TSLM claim is still exaggerated.
A parliamentary answer from the Department of Trade and Industry has
revealed that the government is considering paying a £45,000 contribution
to the council for a study into integrated transport for the district.
TSLM argue that the study should be done first, then the council should
examine whether a road is still needed.
The Highways Agency have had
to re-issue the draft orders and Environmental Statement for the Mottram
to Tintwistle Bypass in the
Things are not looking good
for the Weymouth Relief Road as over 5000 people objected to Dorset
County Council's third planning application. During the second planning
application over 4000 objected with 350 of them from the local area
(see RB bulletin 20 Dec 06). The road only attracted 180 supports.
The local Dorset Echo newspaper is so biased it ran a story saying
"76% of bypass objectors from outside area", rather than "almost double
local people object to the road than support it". The council, when
it realised the numbers against the scheme, declared the second application
void and opened it up again. This enabled the local MP to rustle up
more supports to the road so that it may now be a close run thing.
Local people fed up with how the local media and MP distort the facts
about the road are mobilising
and have formed the Bypass
the Bypass group, which will formally launch on 2 March. The planning
application will be decided (by
East Sussex County Council have admitted that the cost of the dreadful Hastings road scheme has almost doubled up to £89 million, just 2 and half years after being first approved at £47 million. The government originally provisionally approved the scheme in Dec 2004 conditional on the scheme costs not going up. An alliance of groups, including the Hastings Alliance, has written to the DfT asking for funding to be removed from the scheme. Meanwhile a top transport consultant and government adviser, Dr Denvil Coombe, has written a report about the scheme which concludes that non-road alternatives were never examined by the council or the government - see the Transport 200 press release. This concern is shared by many groups opposing road schemes, in particular the Weymouth Relief Road.
Dr Denvil Coombe also wrote
a report about the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NNDR) which
concluded that case for the road "has not been proven in a satisfactorily
objective manner". Dr Coombe said that an assessment of different
transport options seems to have been written with the main aim of
proving that the NNDR is required! Norfolk County Council wants to
build the £100 million road to accommodate massive growth in north
The Welsh Assembly Government
want to build a 7-lane highway to allow more lorries bound for
Local campaigners sent out an
unequivocal message: people don't want the £400 million Aberdeen Bypass.
Well over 5000 objections were lodged against the draft road orders
for the bypass, which would run to the west of
Stop Harlow North are fighting
a massive 20,000 housing development and road plan. They persuaded
an independent planning panel to reject the plans at a hearing into
the East of England regional plan. However the government propose
to over turn the panel's recommendations, and give the go-ahead. So
much for democracy! You have until 9 March to respond to the public
consultation on the draft East of England Plan. You
can help: Complete the form on the Stop Harlow North
Local campaign groups, Bexley Council, John Austin MP and Friends of the Earth are calling for the re-opening of the public inquiry into the Thames Gateway Bridge (TGB) motorway as new evidence has come to light. Transport for London (TfL) failed to mention at the year long inquiry that tolls would be increased on the Dartford Tunnel (meaning traffic will re-route), tolls are being considered on the Blackwall Tunnel, that TfL are now considering congestion charging in Greenwich and there are plans to widen nearby Knee Hill. It is imperative that TfL re-model their traffic figures since evidence presented to the TGB Inquiry assumed there would be no toll or congestion charge at Blackwall Tunnel, no increase in tolls at the Dartford Crossing and no widening of Knee Hill. Does anyone believe that TfL knew nothing about these schemes yet failed to bring them to the attention of the Inspector? Other evidence includes the Stern Review, a new incinerator, the whole of Bexley being made an Air Quality Management Area and new reports on the detrimental affects of pollution from vehicles. The Leader of Bexley Council, Cllr Ian Clement, has written to minister Ruth Kelly urging her to reconvene the inquiry into the Thames Gateway Bridge in light of reports of a new toll charge for the Blackwall Tunnel: "We are fundamentally opposed to the imposition of tolls on the Blackwall Tunnel, which would change all of the traffic forecasts, the economic appraisal, the environmental assessment and the business case for the bridge." Local campaigners from Action Group Against the Bridge (AGAB) are waiting with baited breath to see what the government decide to do.
The Irish government want to
push the M3 motorway through the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of
the High Kings of Ireland and one of the most archaeologically and
culturally significant sites in the world. This sounds very similar
to the M3 motorway pushed through Twyford Down at
The Highways Agency is currently
reconsulting on route choices for the monster £640 million A14 scheme
near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. They have been forced to reconsult
after local resident Nita Tinn won her Judicial Review of the appalling
way the HA had 'consulted' previously (see RB bulletin 31 Oct 06).
On offer are three equally appalling routes which will bring more
noise and pollution to rural communities, and the costs of the scheme
have now leapt up from £490 million to £617-714 million. The problem
is HGVs coming from Felixstowe port on their way to the
Efforts to oppose the
Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman
Alistair Carmichael went to
On 27 February the transport
minister announced intentions to progress plans for yet more motorway
widening, this time around Stansted Airport - creating a double whammy
for climate change. The widening between junctions 6-8 will cost the
taxpayer £698 million, and will allow for more car based sprawl in
this already over stretched part of the country, and assist the climate
damaging expansion of
On 12 February, campaigners
braved sub-zero temperatures to begin their camp in the Rospuda Valley,
Poland, in an attempt to stop a major road scheme. The Polish Government
has approved eight proposed road developments running through the
Work has started on widening
junctions 31-32 just south of Sheffield, and continues on junction
On 22 Feb about 250 local residents
protested about Southend Borough Council's plans to push a £25 million
The protest camp at Titnore Woods is now nine months old, and still there, despite having a High Court eviction order hanging over them. The camp is protecting ancient woodland from a massive housing and supermarket development. The road widening plans seem to have been dropped - for now. See the Protect Our Woodland (POW!) website.