North West "Relief" Road - Letter to Department for Transport

Large Local Majors Fund Team

Department for Transport

by email

2 April 2018

 

Dear Sir or Madam

Application by Shropshire Council to the Large Local Majors Fund for the Shrewsbury "North West Relief Road"

On behalf of Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Green Party I am writing to express our opposition to the building of this road, and to ask you to reject Shropshire Council's application for funding.

Traffic and Transport

We don't believe the road will achieve the stated aim of reducing traffic congestion in Shrewsbury and reducing the levels of traffic travelling though the centre of the town. Research clearly shows (eg. the recent report from CPRE "The End of the Road") that building new roads encourages people to make extra journeys, so that traffic levels on the bypassed roads very soon return to previous or even higher levels.

In the case of the Outline Business Case for the "North West Relief Road" the traffic predictions are particularly unreliable. The OBC studies have not differentiated between journeys through the town centre to destinations just beyond it (including car parks that serve the town centre) - and journeys that start and finish outside the town. Without this information it is impossible to estimate what percentage of the current town centre traffic might use a new road.

Shrewsbury is a relatively compact town where many local work, school and leisure journeys could be done by walking or cycling. In recognition of its potential for cycling Shrewsbury was chosen as one of the DfT's Cycling Towns 2008-11. Funding for this finished in 2011 but there is considerable potential to continue the work that was started and to increase cycling levels. Together with other sustainable transport measures this would be a cheaper and healthier way to address growth in motor traffic.

Shrewsbury is accommodating 6500 new homes over the period 2006-2026 (Shropshire Council's figures) and housebuilding is going ahead on many sites, mostly on the outskirts of the town. Alongside this the priority should be a town-wide approach that prioritises active travel, public transport and the provision of local services, so that local journeys can be made by foot, bicycle or public transport.

Landscape and noise pollution

The OBC fails to value the unique and sensitive landscape through which the road would pass and which it would destroy. It would cross the beautiful and tranquil valley of the river Severn on a high and sloping bridge. The peace of this area and much of Shrewsbury would be seriously affected by traffic noise, which can be heard many miles downwind. This damaging environmental effect is not addressed in the OBC.

The visitor economy is very important to Shrewsbury. Visitors and residents alike value these green spaces which are accessible on foot from the town centre – including fields where Charles Darwin looked for specimens, as a schoolboy.

Conclusion

The NWRR is a proposal that goes back to the 1980s. Previous cases to build it have not been considered strong enough, and the same is true of the latest OBC. Its argument is outdated and the supporting evidence is weak. It takes no account of experience over the last 30 years, showing that new roads fail to reduce congestion, and that there is an overwhelming need to reduce CO2 emissions.

Yours faithfully

Emma Bullard

on behalf of the Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Green Party

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