Unnecessary road schemes will ruin precious countryside

Published on Friday, 02 November 2012 14:06
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

CPRE believe the priority for a new roads programme will devastate our precious countryside.  New roads are being promoted on the ill-considered leap of faith that road building can deliver economic growth and regeneration.

CPRE president Sir Andrew Motion said:

"New roads will ruin our precious landscape and produce even more misery-making bottlenecks and tailbacks. Other solutions are infinitely preferable - solutions that do not compromise unique and beautiful countryside."
There are impacts on Green Belt land, National Parks, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). The advantages of the proposed road schemes are vague, will not alleviate congestion or benefit the local or national economy. Some of the most ill-conceived and damaging proposals are

  • The Wye Valley AONB is under threat from the proposed Hereford bypass: Cost £157m
  • The Mottram-Tintwistle bypass route goes through the Peak District National Park: Cost £183m
  • The Durham northern and western bypasses would dissect the beautiful Green Belt valleys surrounding the historic cathedral city: Cost £160m
  • The Blackdown Hills AONB would be blighted forever by the A303 and A30 widening: Cost £567m
  • The Norwich Northern Distributor Route threatens to surround the unique Norfolk Broads: Cost £153m

Almost 200 large-scale road building projects are being proposed by the Highways Agency, Local Enterprise Partnerships and local authorities, at a total cost of more than £30 billion.

New roads will not get the country moving: they simply encourage more traffic. Scarce public funds are better spent on maintenance of existing roads and improving walking, cycling and public transport. Large-scale road building will also lead to more urban sprawl as new bypasses encourage development outside town centres.  This further damages countryside and increases dependence on cars.

The Bexhill-Hasting Links Road is a damaging road scheme that will destroy important countryside and encourage sprawl rather than improve quality of life. The battle to prevent the £100 million 3 mile road has been fought hard by local campaign groups.  The road scheme would devastate Combe Haven Valley, a place of remarkable tranquillity for 130,000 people who live within walking distance. An estimated 30,000 vehicles a day will use the bypass and it is claimed to be essential for opening up land for development, yet the regeneration proposed is miles from the locations most in need.

Alternative, cost effective transport measures have not been considered, contrary to the need to reduce emissions by at least 80% in line with the Climate Change Act. CPRE believes the following are better solutions:

  • Improving and integrating the rail and bus networks, particularly in rural areas
  • Tackling the backlog in road maintenance
  • Reducing travel through focussing new development in towns
  • Creating safe walking and cycling routes.

Sir Andrew concludes:
"Twenty years on from Twyford Down and the Government's new road building ambitions – coupled with a relaxation in planning controls – are threatening England's beautiful landscapes and green spaces once again."

Source: ©CPRE

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