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Anti-roads lobby unites to block roads revival

Anti-roads campaigners and green groups have joined forces with former transport minister Stephen Norris to attempt to quash any revival of UK road building.

Former transport minister Stephen Norris and anti-road campaigner Rebecca Lush Blum have put their name to Going backwards: the new roads programme, a research report by the Campaign for Better Transport that outlines plans of central and local governments costing over £30bn to build the equivalent of 1,244km of new roads across England and Wales.

The report has been published ahead of a CBT-organised conference this weekend designed to mobilise local anti-roads groups.

The report is based on an examination of national and local infrastructure development plans. It identifies 191 major road building projects including 76 new bypasses, 48 link roads and 9 new bridges and tunnels.The report highlights the environmental impact and political risks of proposing major developments in the countryside.

Norris, a transport minister in the last Conservative government, said he saw little point in attempting a return to road building policies of the 1990s.

“As transport minister I saw first-hand the difficulty in implementing a programme of major road building,” he said. “Experience tells us that it won’t solve the problems country faces. Now is the time for brave and creative decision-making, not a return to road building policies that were tried and failed in the 1990s.”

“Road building is slow, expensive, and unpopular.” added Lush Blum. “The politicians and business leaders promoting these roads have forgotten the lessons of the past. New roads are certain to be met by grassroots opposition from communities up and down the country.”

The CBT report claims the cumulative impact of planned roads on the natural and historic environment would be significant. It says road building proposals would affect four National Parks, seven Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 39 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, three National Nature Reserves, 54 Ancient Woods and 234 Local Wildlife Sites.

“These plans pay no regard to places protected for their natural beauty, for conservation or for their historic importance,” said CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph. “They ride roughshod over the green belt, and encourage sprawling development which undermines the economic vibrancy of our existing towns and cities.”

Among the roads are 42 schemes which revive plans originally proposed in the 1990s. During this period road building resulted in direct action campaigns including Twyford Down, Newbury and Fairmile.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Are these folk blinkered or do they never come out of their ivory towers? Road building does not apply only to new roads on new road lines. There are many roads throught the UK that are past their sell by date and in urgent need of improvement and the UK does not stop at the north of the Home Counties. It is about time that the silent majority were cared, for instead of the vaciferous minority.

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  • It is always easier to criticize rather than coming out with a viable alternative?
    What do they want instead? Going back to horse and cart, steam trains, or perhapse ditching the cars for wonderful flying machines? What is needed is comprehensive overhaul of the transport system and massive investment in cheap public transport infrastructure including more rail lines for local and medium distance journeys coupled with a sensible road maintenance, renewal and building programme.

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  • Pete Cullen

    These people are dreamers. We are a very long way off from "Back to the future 111" !!! Until then we cannot ignore the need to improve and maintain our roads infrastructure whilst traffic still grows and pavements deteriorate. We need a Government spending plan with a guarantee it will happen so that the construction industry can invest in employment, training and plant replacement with confidence. That policy will pay dividends by reducing unemployment and reducing waste with their inherent economic and environmental advantages.

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  • The sites mentioned in the last paragraph say it all. The A 30 past Fairmile is a huge improvement on an essential route and I am sure that the inhabitants of Newbury are pleased that they have been bypassed.

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  • I am not a green group member or an anti-road campaigner, and nor will I insult those who disagree with my view.

    But what we want today is much more money to be spent on flood defence, not roads. The return on capital invested is greater than that for roads,and the benefit in terms of lives saved and houses ruined is huge. Everyone's insurance costs reduce if we don't have to pay for flood damage. You will I am sure have seen today's (2nd November) announcement from the EA that one in six homes is liable to flooding during the next winter. So no more road expenditure, except on the important maintenance, and lots more on anti flooding measures, whether that's river spate control, linear defences or better drainage systems.

    I hope there is no one out there still denying climate change after the wreckage that Hurricane Sandy has left behind. Even the enlightened Republicans are saying that it is happening.

    We need to change our sources of energy and reduce the use we make of fossil fuels if we are to avert the worst of climate change- we need new roads and new runways like a hole in the head..

    Peter Gardiner FICE

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