Alliance against road building
Alliance against road building
Take action this month! There are a number of actions for this month - please do at least one of them. See below.
Sometimes web links in this bulletin don't work, if they don't simply cut and paste them into your address bar. To get any background on any campaigns, please type the campaign or road name into the search engine on the front page of the Road Block website - http://www.roadblock.org.uk/ . Supporters of Road Block can donate here http://www.roadblock.org.uk/givemoney.htm. We promise to deliver very good value for money, unlike the Department for Transport!
(2) Transport and climate news
* Pre-Budget Report and Eddington Review
* ITC argue for road pricing revenue to be spent on more roads
* Transport Statistics of Great Britain 2006
* Car manufacturers failing to hit CO2 targets
* Cornwall seeking compensation for pursuing dead end roads
(2) Campaign updates
* Weymouth Relief Road
* A244 Walton Bridge ( Surrey ) - victory
* Heysham to M6 Link (Lancaster)
* A3055 Undercliff Drive (Isle of Wight)
* M1 Widening
* A24 Ashington-Southwater scheme and A27 Wilmington
* Edge Lane West, Liverpool
* Kingskerswell Bypass (Devon)
* M25 Widening
* A628/A57 Mottram to Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District)
* Connecting Derby
* Carlisle Northern Developer Route
* Titnore Lane ( Sussex )
* A120 Braintree to Marks Tey
* Thames Gateway Bridge
* South East Manchester Relief Road (Stockport)
* South Bristol Ring Road
* Transport for Bristol Alliance
* Westbury Bypass (Wiltshire)
* Norwich Northern Distributor Road
(1) TAKE ACTION - http://www.roadblock.org.uk/action.htm
* Object to the new Weymouth Relief Road planning application - this action takes less than two minutes and must be done before 5 Dec. Weymouth is the most destructive of all the schemes in the government's roads programme - see news item below. See http://www.roadblock.org.uk/action/weymouth3.htm
* Tell the Transport Minister to scrap the roads programme. Road Block has printed 1000s of postcards to send to Douglas Alexander telling him that roadbuilding fuels climate change. You can either download the cards from our website here - http://www.roadblock.org.uk/ - or you can email us to saying how many you would like (send us a donation later to cover the postage), or send us an SAE telling us how many you would like. Write to us at: Road Block, 12-18 Hoxton St, LONDON, N1 6NG.
* Ask for a full public inquiry into the Heysham to M6 Link (Lancaster) - for more info see news item below. To send email see http://www.roadblock.org.uk/action/heysham.htm
* 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 - http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/endroadbuilding/
* Keep government open - defend the Freedom of Information Act. Journalists and groups like Road Block and many local groups find the FOI Act essential for getting hidden information from government, councils and quangos. The government is proposing to limit the time spent on answering FOI requests, and the number of requests anyone can put in. Sign the petition here: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/freeinformation/ . For more information see
(2) TRANSPORT AND CLIMATE NEWS
Pre-Budget Report and Eddington Review
The Pre-Budget Report (PBR) will be announced on 6 Dec. It is rumoured there will be some tokenistic increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD) and vehicle tax on more polluting cars. Fuel duty has not risen inline with inflation for years since the fuel protests. This has kept motoring artificially low, and has been responsible for losing the country £billions in lost revenue. The long awaited review of long term future transport strategy by Sir Rod Eddington (ex CEO of British Airways - see RB bulletins 6 May and 30 Sept 05) will be published tomorrow - 1 Dec. Indications are that it will recognise that investment in roads does not necessarily bring economic benefits, and won't recommend a big roads programme, but will recommend roadbuilding 'where necessary'. However, this is the standard government line on roadbuilding though, and we have ended up with a sprawling roads programme, and rising traffic growth. He will also argue for pushing on with road pricing (but with the aim of cutting congestion, or cutting CO2?). What the media might miss, but will be vitally important for roads campaigners, are his recommendations for reforms to the planning system.
ITC argue for road pricing revenue to be spent on more roads
The Independent Transport Commission (ITC) commissioned respected road pricing expert Prof. Stephen Glaister to produce a report on what roadbuilding could be done with any potential revenue raised from a future road pricing scheme. It deliberately did not look at what other more sustainable uses there could be for money raised from road pricing. It recommended a whole new raft of roadbuilding, putting them in expensive tunnels, and took its figures for the costs of roads from the notoriously unreliable Highways Agency. Road Block responded that it is time that cutting traffic growth and tackling climate change became the central objective of any pricing scheme, and not ploughing revenue into expensive roadbuilding.
Transport Statistics of Great Britain 2006
Every year the DfT publishes TSGB which is full of handy transport facts. This year's was published in November and paints a bleak picture. Road expenditure has increased, numbers of vehicles are up, vehicle tax is down, whilst fuel tax went up only in line with vehicle increase,
Roads stats are here: http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_transstats/documents/page/dft_transstats_613478.pdf
Car manufacturers failing to hit CO2 targets
Three quarters of car manufacturers are failing to hit targets to reduce carbon emissions according to research by Transport and Environment (T&E), the European environmental transport organisation.
The government is relying on the voluntary agreements with car manufacturers to make cuts in road transport CO2. This report shows that this policy measure is failing. Currently the European Union is considering a new mandatory target for fuel efficiency to push the pace of progress.
Please support this here - http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/transport/press_for_change/green_cars/index.html
Cornwall seeking compensation for pursuing dead end roads
Cornwall County Council are seeking compensation from the government for the £millions costs of pursuing road schemes that fell victim to the Regional Funding Allocations (see RB bulletin 30 July 06). The South West region did not prioritise the St Austell to A30 Link road or the Camelford Bypass, and so they won't get funding for the next ten years. The council have spent millions on consultants and studies for road schemes that weren't wanted and are now trying to blame the government. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/6142704.stm. Wiltshire County Council are also claiming £1.75m compensation for costs in progressing the disastrous Brunel Link / Harnham Relief Road (aka Salisbury Bypass) which was also rejected by the region (see RB bulletin 31 Aug 06)
(3) CAMPAIGN NEWS
Weymouth Relief Road (Dorset)
Dorset County Council have withdrawn the 2005 planning application and published a new one. Objections are needed as this is the most destructive road in the roads programme - it takes less than two minutes and every objection counts. Last time there were 1024 objections (versus 50 in support), and also objections in principle from the Countryside Agency. The only differences between the planning applications are they will close the existing road in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and push all the traffic onto the new road. This will make the slip roads unnecessary, however there will still be a big road going through the Ridgeway in cutting, and on embankment over the valley, and the road still won't work in traffic terms. It also still goes through Southdown Ridge in the Area of Local Landscape Interest, the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve and Ancient Woodland in Two Mile Coppice in the Lorton Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is not expected this new application is going to make the road any less controversial. Objections are needed by 5 Dec and it takes two minutes.
Go to http://www.roadblock.org.uk/action/weymouth3.htm and circulate to your friends.
A244 Walton Bridge ( Surrey ) - victory, for the moment
Surrey County Council have lost the public inquiry into the A244 Walton Bridge CPO Orders (see RB bulletin 12 March 06). The council had already granted itself planning permission, and the inquiry was just into the Orders for the scheme. It is almost unheard of for a scheme to be rejected by this stage. The Inspector recommended, and the Secretaries of State agreed, that the scheme should be rejected because (1) the huge clover leaf junction would destroy Walton’s most accessible Thames-side frontage; (2) the bridge did not provide traffic-free cycle and foot movement over the river, despite carrying the long-distance Thames Path; and (3) the replacement land offered for lost common and ‘village green’ land by the Thames was inadequate and away from the river. The procedures will now have to be re-run and campaigners will aim to change the design. The decision letter comes from three Departments – DfT, DCLG and Defra and can be seen here:
Heysham to M6 Link (Lancaster)
Lancashire County Council unsurprisingly granted themselves planning permission for the terrible Heysham to M6 Link. Now the attention has turned to Planning Minister Ruth Kelly to 'call-in' the application for a full public inquiry. Please email Ruth Kelly to ask for a call in too: http://www.roadblock.org.uk/action/heysham.htm.
For background to the scheme see the local group's website here: http://heyshamm6link.info/
A3055 Undercliff Drive (Isle of Wight)
Controversy is creating choppy waters on the Isle of Wight as the Audit Commission step in to investigate consultants working on a £13 million road rebuilding scheme in a landslip area on the Island. High Point Rendel consultants were awarded a £894,000 deal by the council, without having a contract, or following EU competition rules. In Scarborough in 2004 the same consultant was slammed by the Audit Commission for picking up £4.2M of work from the Council "unlawfully", with their fees doubling from £1.2m, and building costs soared from £28m to more than £40m. By a spooky coincidence, the officer nominally in charge of the Scarborough project, technical services director Derek Rowell, is now the ''Strategic Director. Economic Development and Regeneration'' on, er, the Isle of Wight. The A3055 Undercliff Drive is located on one of Europe's largest natural landslips and a SSSI nature reserve. The Department for Transport funded scheme would involve stabilising the land immediately around the road with piling, drainage and earthworks. Local campaigners are claiming it will not protect sections of Undercliff Drive from potential collapse because watchdog Natural England (formerly English Nature) will only support the scheme in a SSSI if the lower part of the slope is not stabilised and drained off. It argued that the natural environment at Undercliff depends on active mudslides. Meanwhile draft Compulsory Purchase Orders have been published for the scheme for a public inquiry next year.
See http://www.undercliff.org/ for the website of the Undercliff Defence Committee.
No Widening M1
Sheffield MP Clive Betts asked roads minister Dr Stephen Ladyman to confirm assurances he had given local residents that if CO2 levels would go up as a result of the widening, it would not go ahead. Although the minister did not confirm this he did say "If we cannot mitigate the environmental consequences of the widening, it will not go ahead". See Road Block press release here http://www.roadblock.org.uk/press_releases/2006-11-23.htm and the No Widening M1 alliance website here - http://www.nowideningm1.org.uk/ . Meanwhile police have indicated that they are not prepared to police the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) car sharing lanes on the M1. The government announced that the new lanes will be HOV lanes in March this year.
Edge Lane West ( Liverpool)
Local resident Elizabeth Pascoe has gained an injunction against English Partnerships from demolishing homes for the Pathfinder and Edge Lane West road scheme. This is after winning a Judicial Review of the scheme in Sept 06 (see also RB bulletin 31 Oct 06). English Partnerships must wait for the Judge to rule.
A24 Ashington-Southwater scheme and A27 Wilmington
The South East Regional Transport Board has chosen its transport funding priorities from 2011-16. Although the list is better than the 2006-10 list which saw the region allocate 95 per cent of its budget to roadbuilding, this still includes the A24 Ashington-Southwater (despite being ranked as 'poor' in policy compatibility terms) and A27 Wilmington schemes, both of which are very controversial. The A24 scheme is opposed by the A24 Alliance who are campaigning to retain the A24 as a road used by local people and traffic.
Kingskerswell Bypass (Devon)
The campaign down in Devon hots up as the council prepare to put in a bid for government funding approval. Whilst the council claim that 408 properties in the village will benefit from the road, their figures also reveal that 836 homes will be worse off. A recent public meeting in the village saw 100 people attend and a campaign video has also been produced. Meanwhile after using Freedom of Information Act since February to try and get the council to reveal what alternatives they are considering to the roadbuilding, the council have finally revealed to Road Block that their alternative to the road is.... another road!
M25 widening DBFO
The £5 billion M25 widening contract was under attack in the Sunday Times. Although the actual construction costs 'only' £1.6 billion, the private sector will be paid £5 billion to build and maintain it over 30 years.
A628/A57 Mottram to Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District)
The Save Swallows Wood campaign have produced a postcard calling on the Secretary of State to fully investigate alternatives before taking a decision on the Mottram-Tintwistle bypass. If you would like to sign one or could distribute them and collect additional signatures, please e-mail or send an SAE to APT Postcard Campaign, 63B Glossop Road, Gamesley, High Peak SK13 6JH. The Council for National Parks led a delegation of groups opposed to the scheme at a meeting with the roads minister Stephen Ladyman. He insisted that the public inquiry would still go ahead, but instructed the Highways Agency to meet with groups to discuss alternatives ahead of the inquiry.
In response to the announcement that there will be a public inquiry into the Connecting Derby road scheme, there are 17 statutory objectors to the CPOs, and in total 50 objections were received. It is anticipated that the inquiry will be held Feb/March next year, and that it will put back Connecting Derby for another 4 to 6 months, with construction possibly not starting until early 2008, assuming that they win the public inquiry.
Carlisle Northern Developer Route
The government have recently given the go-ahead for £143 million PFI finance for this Cumbria County Council road scheme. However in May this year it was costed at £78.81 million, so in just six months the costs have gone up 89%.
Titnore Lane (Sussex)
Minister Ruth Kelly has rejected calls to call-in the controversial development for a full public inquiry. Although the council now claim that 210 trees due for the chop to make way for road straightening on Titnore Lane will now be spared, they have not told people that the ancient woodland will still be so seriously fragmented and degraded by the other roads, house building and a massive Tescos hypermarket, it will be incapable of supporting the protected wildlife that rely on it for survival. Local campaigners, who have set up a flourishing protest camp, claim they are attempting to gloss over the environmental damage after years of controversy. It is unknown why the local Lib Dems and Conservatives so unwaveringly support such a destructive and locally unpopular private developer scheme. The treetop camp is now 6 months old and is preparing for winter. If you can help in any way there is a wish list at www.protectourwoodland.co.uk/wishlist.htm. Money being the most important.
A120 Braintree to Marks Tey
The Highways Agency are busy beavering away on this unpopular scheme, and they are hopeful that there will be an announcement on the Preferred Route by the end of 2006. This is despite the region placing the scheme as a low priority for funding in 2015.
See http://www.a120.org/ for the Cressing A120 Action Group
Thames Gateway Bridge
The Inspector’s report and recommendation on the Inquiry into the proposed £500 million Thames Gateway Bridge has now been submitted with a final decision expected in Spring 2007. Meanwhile new evidence can still be submitted to DCLG, and the Action Group Against the Bridge will be submitting the Stern report on climate change. See http://www.nobridge.org.uk/
South East Manchester Relief Road (Stockport)
Stockport Against the Bypass has been working to gain Local Nature Reserve status along the route of the proposed SEMMMS road through the Goyt Valley and Poise Brook Valley. Poise Brook Valley has been given that status in the past few months.STAB are trying to raise the public's awareness of this beautiful, hidden countryside in the centre of our northern, former industrial town - countryside which is accessible on foot for thousands of our residents. See http://stoptheroad.org.uk/
South Bristol Ring Road
Bristol and North Somerset District Councils have now appointed consultants to carry out preliminary studies on the South Bristol Ring Road.The Alliance against the SBRR is continuing to hold public meetings to set up groups in all the affected areas. Bristol International Airport 'strongly' supported the road in their recently issued Masterplan (for expansion) with the Director of the Airport portraying himself in the local press as the saviour of a local village plagued by commuter (and airport) traffic by offering to pay 15% of the cost. See http://www.southbristolringroad.co.uk/
Transport for Bristol Alliance
Seven local groups in Bristol including Bristol FOE, Bristol Civic Society and Living Streets have written a joint Manifesto for transport in the city. They want to give the public a green, pro-public transport alternative to the Government of the South West's vision of airport expansion, new major road building and a string of park and ride sites. The Manifesto lists all the policies they needed to transform the current mess. However, these policies cannot be achieved without a Transport Authority for the city similar to Transport for London but with increased powers. The campaign is to get all local election candidates to sign up to two key demands 1. Creation of a Transport Authority for Greater Bristol 2. Creation of a cross-party working group to look at ways of obtaining more funding for transport. The public launch took place on 6th November and is gathering support. For details contact or go to http://uk.geocities.com/transportforbristol/
Westbury Bypass (Wiltshire)
Wiltshire County Council have been meeting with Government Office South West to discuss a future possible bid for funding. The recent discussions on South West regional funding priorities refused to acknowledge that the biodiversity impacts are far more significant than first thought, with the discovery on route of 13 of Britain's 17 bat species.
Norwich Northern Distributor Road
A coalition of groups in Norfolk commissioned leading transport consultant Denvil Coombe to criticise the appraisal for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road. Dr Coombe concluded that the appraisal of alternative options "seems to have been written with the main aim of proving that the NNDR is required". Norfolk County Council have just been awarded £250,000 of Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) funding by the government for studies on road pricing. Norfolk have already indicated that they intend to include the road in their pricing plans, joining Shropshire and Durham as authorities who are trying to steal the TIF road pricing money for dodgy old road schemes. See http://www.norwichn25.org/