Alliance against road building
Alliance against road building
Welcome to the Road Block e-bulletin, rounding up the latest roads campaign and transport news. The next e-bulletin deadline will be 12 January 2006, so please send us your campaign news before then. If you would like to be on a list to receive Road Block press releases (we typically send out 2-4 a month) please email us.
(1) Campaign updates – Aberdeen Western Bypass; Dalkeith Northern Bypass (Midlothian); Westbury Bypass (Wiltshire); Salisbury Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road (Wiltshire); Glossop Spur Road (Tameside); Mottram - Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District); Heysham - M6 Link (Lancaster Northern Bypass); Kingskerwell Bypass (Devon); Weymouth Relief Road (Dorset); South Bristol Ring Road; Brownhills Eastern Bypass (Walsall); Harlow North Bypass (Herts); M6 Expressway (Staffordshire); No Widening M1 - Sheffield; Norwich No N25 Campaign
(2) Transport and climate news – Regional Funding Allocations (RFA) - stopping roads; Transport Innovation Fund (TIF); Darling and CBI call for planning process speed up; Trams versus roads; Brown freezes road fuel duty; £1.38m price tag for road fatalities; M25 widening; Green Tories?; Road Block Publications
(3) Events - Climate change camp - 26 Aug - 4 Sept 2006
Aberdeen Western Bypass
In a shocking announcement on 1 Dec the Scottish Executive announced not one, but two, roads for Aberdeen. Although the controversial route through the Camphill special needs school was rejected, instead transport minister Tavish Scott chose a new route through Milltimber Brae, with a surprise new road via Netherley to Stonehaven bolted on. Residents at Milltimber are organising protest meetings. During the consultation, of the 1892 respondents who stated a preference, only 3.7% wanted a similar route. Friends of the Earth Scotland said "There was no examination of alternatives and the so-called consultation failed to offer a single option that does not include new road-building. The Executive has simply bulldozed over due process. To now add in a second brand new road means even greater environmental damage". The new road will go through the house of David Davidson, a Scottish Tory MSP, who campaigned for the road! Also the home of former Aberdeen and Scotland football legend Willie Miller. See http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/press/pr20051201.html
Dalkeith Northern Bypass (Midlothian)
Protesters are still in place in their ‘tree-sit’ camps on the route (see RB bulletin 5 Nov), despite an eviction order being granted on 25 Nov, and a lightning raid on 14 Dec resulting in 11 trees felled. Evictions and tree felling could take place any time. The Scottish Executive desperately want to fell these trees illegally, as there are bat roosts in them. Come and do something really useful during the Christmas break, and sit up trees at the wildlife rich Dalkeith Park. If you turn up you will really make a difference. This is really urgent and tomorrow maybe too late... There are now 4 camps and protesters are stretched thinly. 1679 people signed the online petition against the road, which was presented to the Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament. This scheme has been resurrected from the 1990s, and the Environmental Impact Assessment is over 10 years old! Loads more info at: www.save-dalkeith-park.org.uk. To get on the eviction email tree send your contact details to . To contact the protesters directly, call , and updates are posted daily at http://scotland.indymedia.org
Westbury Bypass (Wiltshire)
Remarkably Wiltshire County Council has started the ball rolling on Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) for Westbury Eastern Bypass. This is despite there being no approval from government, it has not been made a regional priority, there is tremendous opposition from the towns people of Westbury (who have objected to the planning application in their hundreds), and strong objections from the Environment Agency, English Nature, the Wildlife Trust, and all the environmental groups. This is typical of both Members and Officers complete refusal for debate about the road, already demonstrated when the council refused the recommendation of the Local Plan Inspector who recommended against the bypass - bulldozer planning! The scam is to try and persuade the Region Assembly that the road is now 'deliverable', get it prioritised, and snatch funding away from public transport. But not if the A36 / A350 Corridor Alliance have anything to do with it.
Salisbury Brunel Link/Harnham Relief Road (Wiltshire)
Salisbury District Council's Environment & Transport Scrutiny Panel have recommended that the District Council should cease to support this controversial and environmentally destructive road scheme, and call upon Wiltshire County Council to withdraw their current planning application. This report is an important step in the right direction, but it still has to be accepted by the Conservative-led District Council. Meanwhile Wiltshire County Council are working to produce extra material which was missing or deficient in the second planning application for the scheme, telling campaigners that they plan to get this out for consultation "before Christmas".
Glossop Spur Road (Tameside)
A surprise objection was lodged by the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) to the planning application (see RB bulletin 5 and 27 Nov) although that was not enough to stop Tameside council from granting themselves planning permission. The PDNPA objection was based on concern about the traffic impact on the Park, that the traffic modelling was incomplete, and that alternatives should be looked at, using current appraisal processes. They were also warned by local campaigners that their Environmental Statement was so deficient that it could leave them open to legal challenge. For background see http://www.roadblock.org.uk/action/glossopSpur.htm or email Emma on to get involved.
Mottram - Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District)
This road is linked to the above scheme. Campaigners are proposing a lorry ban through the National Park, instead diverting HGV traffic onto the motorways where it belongs, and they have a feasibility study to show it is possible. This proposal is gathering huge support locally, with many previously pro-road people now supporting the lorry ban instead - and keeping their countryside. Win-win! Door to door questionnaires are being delivered, with hearts and minds being won over. See http://www.saveswallowswood.org.uk/
Heysham - M6 Link (Lancaster Northern Bypass)
Lancashire County Council have just issued a Planning Application for the road. See the Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) website here http://www.heyshamm6link.info/html/whats_new_.html#planning
Kingskerwell Bypass (Devon)
Principled parish councillor Paul Bright has been suspended from the council for two months and ordered to apologise for failing to declare an interest at council meetings. Pro road councillors have also been reported for attending the same meetings, and it will be interesting to see if they are treated in the same way.
Weymouth Relief Road (Dorset)
The scheme went before the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Planning Committee, and for the first time 2 councillors voted against the scheme. The tide seems to be turning! Amongst the 1016 objections to the Planning Application, were objections from Countryside Agency, Environment Agency, English Nature, Woodland Trust, CPRE, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Open Spaces Society, Ramblers Association, Transport 2000, RSPB (Holding Objection only).
South Bristol Ring Road
Local residents have set up the Stockwood Residents against the Ring Road campaign group, and have been busy alerting other communities about the surprise road plans. Plans for the road were only revealed in September, and suddenly the road has been made a regional priority. The residents have quickly started lobbying regional assembly members about the lack of consultation for the road, and the devastating impact it would have on communities and countryside.
Brownhills Eastern Bypass (Walsall)
Stonnall Campaign Against Roads (SCAR) recently organised a walk along the road route to give people an idea of the extent of the damage that could be done to the environment and the road's close proximity to some of the dwellings in Stonnall. It was very well attended . SCAR have also been contacting other surrounding areas to warn them of the knock on effect that it could have on them. SCAR have been asked to comment on the West Midlands Local Transport Plan. SCAR now has a new website at www.stonnall-scar.co.uk
Harlow North Bypass (Herts)
Proposals for a Harlow North bypass have finally been published by Ropemaker Properties in their submission to the Examination in Public for the draft East of England Plan. The scheme drives into the Greenbelt and greenfields around the northern edge of the land proposed for 10,000 houses north of Harlow and cuts a swathe through woodland in Gilston Park. It would take traffic from the A414 around the new houses and bring traffic back to the A1184 in Sawbridgeworth or could join a new link to a new junction on the M11. The scheme has no Government funding and is not a regional priority. It does nothing to solve Harlow's current problems caused by local and terminating traffic. See http://www.stopharlownorth.com/
M6 widening / M6 Expressway (Staffordshire)
Things are moving, as the Highways Agency have announced two consultation events in Jan on 10th and 13th in Penkridge and Sandbach. There will be a GAME public meeting on 18 Jan. See http://nom6e.blogspot.com/
No Widening M1 - Sheffield
We'll be speaking at a Sheffield City Council meeting, asking questions and presenting a petition to them on 4th January. We are receiving free campaign training from Seeds for Change. To get more involved see www.nowideningm1.org.uk or phone 07759 851073. The campaign also appeared in the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1652965,00.html
Norwich No N25 Campaign
On 8 Dec the East of England Regional Assembly tried to by-pass the scrutiny process of their East of England Plan Examination in Public (EiP), and put forward the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) as a funding priority to Government, two months before the Examination reports. No N25 have sent a letter of protest to the Chair of the EiP Panel to say that any decision should be deferred until he has reported. Better news is that Norfolk County Council's bid for Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) money for the NDR has been turned down. Clearly the DfT recognised the attempt to retrofit tolling to their proposal as exactly what it is - an attempt to blag some money to dress their proposal up as something clever and original when it's just the same old tired and discredited solution being peddled yet again. See http://www.norwichn25.org/
Regional Funding Allocations - stop roads for the next 10 years!
Around the English regions, the limited amount of transport cash is being allocated to transport projects for the next 10 years. This could mean whether roads get dropped or are prioritised, or whether roads will steal all the money away from public transport. Currently a lot of very controversial roads are in the first priority lists coming from the regions: Durham, Shrewsbury, Southend, South Bristol Ring Road, A120 Braintree to Marks Tey, Hastings, Lancaster... Some are being dropped (for now): Salisbury, Westbury, Weymouth, Kingskerswell... Get in touch, to find out more, and how you can influence this process. See also RB bulletin 27 Nov.
Campaigners about destructive road schemes in the South West attended one of the meetings and held a "pick a road out of a hat" stall, which just about sums up the process. Regional Assembly members were invited to pull the names of roads out of a giant top hat!
Transport Innovation Fund (TIF)
The government announced funding for studies of innovative transport measures at West Midlands, Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham and in Shropshire. Unfortunately Durham and Shropshire are hiding road schemes within their TIF bids, which has nothing to do with innovation or demand management
Darling and CBI call for planning process speed up
On 28 November, at the CBI Annual Conference, the CBI called for the planning processes for major projects to be 'speeded up', with transport minister, Alistair Darling, echoing their call: "We cannot afford years of delay. We have got to speed up the present system". Often the blame for delays is 'pinned on' local people or environmentalists. However, the truth is that often it is the government who will come to a public inquiry badly prepared (see Thames Gateway Bridge delays in RB bulletin 27 Nov, or in the case of 2-year Terminal 5 public inquiry at Heathrow where government aviation policy was being made up as they went along!). Or the Inspector can take over a year to write their Report, and then the government can sit on the report for even more years! The calls to cut the planning process are coming thick and fast. Expect Rod Eddington (the new transport czar) to say the same when he reports to Brown and Darling in the Spring. If local people were included earlier on in decision making, this could halt some delays. See http://www.roadblock.org.uk/press_releases/2005-10-18B.htm
Trams versus roads
Demonstrating breath taking hypocrisy, the government scrapped two tram schemes on 29 November due to cost increases, whilst roads costs are going through the roof. Road Block has calculated that trunk roads are averaging 53% cost increases, whilst local roads see 40% increases. The figures and press release are available here: http://www.roadblock.org.uk/press_releases/2005-11-29.htm. See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/4527250.stm
Brown freezes road fuel duty - again
For the third year in a row, the tax on petrol and diesel has been frozen,
so it is still not rising in line with inflation, making the cost of motoring
even cheaper (see RB e-bulletin 5 Nov). Meanwhile the cost of fuel for trains
was hit by a 1.22p per litre rise. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,1659121,00.html
£1.38m price tag for road fatalities
In the bizarre world of transport appraisal where everything has a price tag, and everything can be quantified, the price of a road fatality has been costed as £1.38 million... this is for the "pain, grief and suffering to the causalities, relatives and friends and, for fatalities, the intrinsic loss of enjoyment of life over and above the consumption of goods and services". You couldn't make it up. To justify a road, they multiply the number of deaths they think they will prevent over a 60 year period by the £1.38 million price tag, and then call it a benefit for the road!
Alistair Darling opened up a lovely new £148 million stretch of tarmac
on 13 December - junctions 12-15 of the M25 and a spur road to Heathrow Airport.
How sustainable! See http://transport2000.org.uk/news/maintainNewsArticles.asp?NewsArticleID=282
In case you were getting confused by David Cameron's concern about climate
change, in his acceptance speech as leader he made clear the more familiar
Tory position on road building: "Britain now needs a concerted programme
of road building, accompanied by the introduction of advanced traffic management
methods, including new solutions for road charging". Chris Grayling (Con,
Epsom and Ewell and former member of the Commons Transport Committee) has
been appointed Shadow Transport Secretary.
Road Block Publications
Climate change camp - 26 Aug - 4 Sept 2006
A huge camp for action around climate change is being planned for the North of England at the end of next summer. See http://www.climatecamp.org.uk