Government announcement on major roads projects brings little comfort to National Parks

The announcement of the road schemes – covering the Peak District, South Downs and Broads Authority National Parks - is completely contrary to the Government’s own policy on road building in National Parks and fails to take account of the importance that the public attach to protecting parts of the countryside from development.

Ruth Bradshaw, Policy and Research Manager at the Campaign for National Parks, said the current policy on presumption against development set out in the UK Government Vision and Circular for English National Parks and the Broads 2010, stated that “there is a strong presumption against any significant road widening or the building of new roads through a Park, unless it can be shown there are compelling reasons for new or enhanced capacity and with any benefits outweighing the costs very significantly. Any investment in trunk roads should be directed to developing routes for long distance traffic which avoid the Parks.”

Ms Bradshaw said: “The existing presumption against road building in National Parks is very clear and we also want to see this included in the National Policy Statement on national Road and Rail Networks, which is due to be published shortly.”

She added that while some funding - £300m - had been earmarked to deliver environmental improvements to the existing network -  it was far less than the £3bn demanded by campaigners over the next five years.

“The identification of specific funding to maintain and enhance landscape and work to halt the loss of biodiversity is welcome.  But there is nothing to ensure that National Parks will be prioritised for the funding for noise reduction, despite the huge benefits this could bring.

“Ninety million people visit National Parks every year, eager to experience their unique qualities but too often their enjoyment is spoilt by traffic noise and unsightly, dangerous roads. Today’s announcement provides far too little to reduce the impacts of existing roads on National Parks,” she added.

Among the major road proposals which affect National Parks announced today are:

Peak District:

• Mottram Moor link road – a new dual-carriageway link road from the M67 terminal roundabout to a new junction at A57(T) Mottram Moor and a new single-carriageway link.
• A57(T) to A57 link road – a new single carriageway link from the A57 at Mottram Moor to a new junction on the A57 at Brookfield, bypassing the existing A628/A57 and A57 Woolley Lane/Hadfield road junctions.
• A61 dualling – on the east side of Pennines, completion of the dualling of the A61 between the A616 roundabout and junction 36 of the M1.
• A628 climbing lanes – consideration of the provision of two overtaking lanes on the A628 near Woodhead Bridge and near Salter’s Brook Bridge.

South Downs

• A27 Arundel bypass – a new dual carriageway bypass to link together the two existing dual carriageway sections of the road.

Broads

• A47 Acle Straight measures – addressing safety concerns by making short-term and long-term improvements, potentially including installation of safety barriers, junction improvements, road widening and capacity improvements.