North-west ‘relief’ road fuels climate crisis

Shropshire Wildlife Trust has joined Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST), an alliance of organisations which holds the view that building more roads is neither sensible nor sustainable in a period of climate emergency.

It is the view of Shropshire Wildlife Trust and many of its members that the construction of the north-west so-called ‘relief’ road would have a highly detrimental effect on the local environment.  There are also serious concerns that it could endanger Shrewsbury’s water supply and cost a huge amount of money.

“Against a backdrop of heightened awareness of climate change and the need to adopt creative ways to reduce carbon emissions, it is dispiriting that Shropshire Council continues to support projects that will encourage more traffic onto the roads,” said Robin Mager, planning officer.  “It is time to end car-centric transport planning and move towards investment decisions that reflect the true cost of car use to society”.

The Welsh government’s recent enlightened decision to drop the Gwent Levels M4 ‘relief’ road demonstrates that decision-makers are at last starting to realise that more road building is not the answer to dealing with congested traffic. The road was not only deemed environmentally destructive but also economically imprudent,

Impact on wildlife

The road would carve up the existing countryside north of Shrewsbury, passing just half a kilometre from four local Wildlife Sites, including an ancient woodland and an internationally recognised wetland. Hencott Pool, with its rich flora of fen plants, is part of the unique Meres and Mosses landscape, its value recognised in a string of designations designed to protect it.

Bats, toads, newts, hares, hedgehogs, otters, kingfishers, skylarks and a host of other wild birds and animals would be adversely affected by this intrusion into the landscape.

Shropshire Council has recently recognised the climate emergency.  Constructing this road would result in increased carbon emissions.  Within months of Shrewsbury’s Big Town Plan celebrating this very green wedge of countryside, the road proposal threatens to bisect and urbanise it

Hazards for water supply

Both the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water have major concerns regarding the scheme. They are particularly apprehensive about contamination of the ground water aquifer and the source protection zone that the Oxon Link Road will pass through. Contamination could affect Shrewsbury’s drinking water as well as polluting pools and running water.

The road scheme would have to meet the highest levels of protection, addressing all possible risks to the ground water as well as ensuring that whatever measures are put in place are maintained for the entire life of the road.

Shropshire pays

The official forecast is that construction would cost £71 million – down more than £30 million from the figure quoted a decade ago.  Given that large-scale projects almost invariably over-run their budgets it is likely that the final cost would be significantly higher.  More cost-effective solutions should be examined to deal with traffic and transport needs within the town. This has simply not been done.

BeST has organised a public meeting on Thursday 17 October at 7.30pm at The Guildhall, Frankwell. Come along to find out more.

You could also check out Better Shrewsbury Transport or Sustainable Transport Shropshire on Facebook.

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