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From: "Road Block" office@roadblock.org.uk
Subject: Road Block e-bulletin - 11 Feb 06
Date: Sat, 11 Feb 2006 10:54:53 -0000

from Road Block at http://www.roadblock.org.uk

Road Block e-bulletin * 11 February 2006

Road Block has a funding crisis, as we only have five months funding left, and seriously want to keep piling on the pressure to get roads stopped. If everyone on the e-bulletin list set up a £3 a month standing order, Road Block would raise a third of the cash it needs to run. Although we are approaching grant bodies, we do also rely on donations from supporters. We know that many of you really appreciate Road Block's work, and we thank all of you who have generously supported Road Block financially over the last year. However, if you haven't already considered doing so, we urge you to set up a small regular standing order. We promise it will be money well spent!

See http://www.roadblock.org.uk/givemoney.htm for details on how to set up a standing order.

Next e-bulletin deadline is 9 March, so please send us your campaign news before then.

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CONTENTS

(1) Transport and climate news 72% of Regional Funding Allocations goes to roads!; Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) used to build roads?; Costs of road building; Parliamentary Debate; Environmental Audit Committee; Briefings on roads and the law, Public Inquiries and Road User Pricing

(2) Campaign updates Weymouth Relief Road (Dorset); Dalkeith Northern Bypass (Midlothian); Heysham - M6 Link (Lancaster Northern Bypass); Mottram - Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District); A127/A1159 Priory Crescent, Southend (Essex); Forth Bridge (Scotland); A14 Ellington - Fen Ditton 'Improvement' (Cambridgeshire); A303 Stonehenge (Wiltshire); A47 Acle Straight dualling (Norfolk); Tunstall Northern Bypass (Stoke); M6 Expressway (Staffordshire); Titnore Lane (Sussex); Norwich Northern Distributor Road (Norfolk); Shrewsbury NW Relief Road (Shropshire); A4071 Rugby Western Relief Road (Warwickshire); Harlow North (Herts); Thames Gateway Bridge (London); A590 High Low Newton (Lake District); No Widening M1; SEMMMS Relief Road Scheme (South East Manchester); Kendal Northern Relief Road (Cumbria); Luton Northern Bypass (M1 - A6)

(3) Events - Roads and Airports direct action meeting - 18 Feb; Carbon Dating lobby - 1 March; Power Up - 19-21 May; Climate change camp - 26 Aug - 4 Sept 2006

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(1) TRANSPORT NEWS

Regional Funding Allocations give 72% of funding to roads, and only 24% to public transport South East and East Midlands blow 95% of their budgets on roads!

After six months of haggling and horse trading, the eight English regions finally handed into the government their lists of their top transport priorities for the next ten years, on 31 Jan. The whole exercise was an attempt by the government to get the regions to 'knock heads together', and prioritise transport schemes according to limited regional budgets, rather than producing the traditional long 'wish-lists' of schemes. Transport 2000 analysis of the region's final ten year plans shows that road projects have taken an average of 72% of the funding, whereas 24% went to public transport (rail was not included in the process, and neither were motorways or major trunk roads). The worst regions were the South East and the East Midlands who allocated 95% of their budget to roads! The best balance was achieved in the South West and West Midlands. These lists have now gone as advice to the government who now have to decide whether to reject them, or live with them...

See http://transport2000.org.uk/news/maintainNewsArticles.asp?NewsArticleID=291

You can view the lists of schemes by region at http://www.roadblock.org.uk/roadschemes.htm

The Daily Mail covered the roads bias, but bizarrely blamed local councils!

Schemes prioritised -

Lancaster, Brownhills, Shrewsbury, Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass, Glossop Spur, Southend, Norwich, A120 Braintree-Marks Tey, Hastings, A27 Southernham-Beddingham, A3 Hindhead, South Bristol Ring Road, Tunstall, Derby, SEMMMS, High / Low Newton, and Lincoln

Schemes not prioritised -

Acle Straight, Salisbury, Weymouth, Westbury, Kingskerswell, St Austell, Camelford, and Durham

Anti-road campaigners from Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex demonstrated at the final secret East of England regional funding meeting on 27 Jan - they were excluded from the meeting. A great picture can be seen at the Roadblock site and they received coverage in The Guardian.

Transport Innovation Fund (TIF)

Watch out for this! Originally, when announced, TIF was supposed to be for road user charging schemes, public transport, and demand management. However, new guidance issued on 26 Jan says that TIF will be split into two: Congestion TIF for road pricing, and Productivity TIF for schemes that increase national productivity (or rather 'Infrastructure TIF'...). Media reports have speculated that actually only £1.4b of the £9.5b fund will go to pricing schemes, with the rest going to new infrastructure - road and rail. This could be the main source of funding for new roads. The construction industry are rubbing their hands with joy... Expect all the big schemes in the RFA (see above) to make a comeback... Rumours abound that roads mad Wiltshire County Council are thinking of making a TIF bid for the hated Westbury Bypass. Already Durham and Shrewsbury are trying to fund their road schemes through TIF.

Costs of road building

In a Freedom of Information request in October 2005, the Highways Agency admitted the costs of one mile of motorway is now £28 million, up from £23m in May 2005 -
http://www.highways.gov.uk/aboutus/documents/2.pdf

Meanwhile the spiralling cost of roads has not gone unnoticed by the Lib Dems -
http://www.libdems.org.uk/news/story.html?id=9640&navPage=news.html
The Times - 23 Jan http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,170-2005592,00.html

Parliamentary Debate

An Opposition Debate took place on transport on 1 Feb where the Tories and Labour tried to out do one another on who liked road building the most. Only Tom Brake of the Lib Dems held the ground, arguing against road building and highlighting cost increases. Chris Grayling, the new Tory transport spokesman, moaned that the "bulldozers remained firmly in their garages". Whilst Alistair Darling boasted about how many roads Labour were building.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm060201/debtext/60201-23.htm

Environmental Audit Committee

The EAC are conducting an inquiry into the impact of transport on climate change. The cross-party committee has been very tough on the government's environmental record so far, and they are calling for evidence. Why not put in your own evidence on your road scheme, and climate change?
See http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environmental_audit_committee.cfm

Briefing on roads and the law, and Public Inquiries

New Road Block briefing by Earthrights Solicitors on roads, campaigning and the law is now available on the website at http://www.roadblock.org.uk/resources/legal.pdf. Other briefings on fighting Public Inquiries will be up very shortly at http://www.roadblock.org.uk/resources.htm

Briefing on road pricing

A briefing on the environmental case for road user pricing by Friends of the Earth, Transport 2000, CPRE and others is available on the resource page of the Road Block website.

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(2) CAMPAIGN NEWS

Weymouth Relief Road (Dorset)

Superb submissions from Dorset CPRE have successfully convinced a local plan inquiry inspector to delete the road from the West Dorset local plan! She was not convinced of the need for the road, or that it would regenerate the area. Not only that, but the road was also not selected as a regional funding priority. The only tactic left for the road builders is for them to lie as much as they can that the road is needed for the sailing part of the Olympics... which they are certainly doing... The original 2012 bid did NOT include the road, and in fact made a big deal about sustainable transport provision, and rail upgrades. That hasn't stopped local politicians and business interests, and even local Labour MP and Environment Minister Jim Knight. He has boasted that he will outrageously lean on his independent Countryside Agency to drop their objection to the scheme. Watch that one blow up in his face... The CA are not convinced that the road is justified on traffic grounds, as well as going through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). English Nature are also objecting, and the Woodland Trust and RSPB, and over 1000 local residents.

Dalkeith Northern Bypass (Midlothian)

Evictions of tree camps on the route of the £40 million A68 Dalkeith Bypass started on 16 Jan and lasted until 26 Jan with 31 arrests for aggravated trespass. Protesters had dug a network of tunnels and set up tree-camps to resist eviction from wildlife rich Dalkeith Park. Mature oak trees were felled, burned and pulped, including on top of a badger set. Although complaints were made to the police, the Scottish Executive managed to rush through a licence to disturb the badger sett, and the trees were felled before any investigation could take place. Although things may look pretty bleak at the moment the campaign continues. The European Parliament is being petitioned, with another petition in at the Scottish Parliament. There are various events in the pipeline including another demonstration (date to be confirmed). If you have any suggestions or would like to help in any, the Save Dalkeith Park Campaign would be glad to hear from you.
Loads more info at http://www.save-dalkeith-park.org.uk

Heysham - M6 Link (Lancaster Northern Bypass) - URGENT

Lancashire County Council have received 571 objections to their planning application. Objection letters can still be submitted up to the date of the planning meeting. Letters are also urgently needed to the ODPM to have the application 'called in' for a full inquiry. Please write letters, as this road has been selected as a 'regional priority', the government will announce its decision in the Spring, and is critical to stop. The road would damage Green Belt, and pass close to the homes of 1000s of people.
Details at http://www.heyshamm6link.info/html/whats_new_.html#planning
or on the Take Action pages of our website.

628 Mottram - Tintwistle Bypass (Peak District)

The Highways Agency published the draft Orders and the Environmental Statement for this scheme on the 31 Jan. Objectors have until the 5 May to respond, with a Public Inquiry to follow later in the year. Exhibitions are taking place locally during February. To publicise the campaign and highlight the area that will be affected, local residents and campaigners organised a "tree dressing" event. See http://www.saveswallowswood.org.uk for pictures from the event, latest news, and to be added to the campaign mailing list. For info contact Emma on info@savewallowswood.org.uk

127/A1159 Priory Crescent, Southend (Essex)

On 23 Jan residents from the protest camp and campaigners from resident's group, Parklife, occupied the Government Office for the East of England (GO-East) in Cambridge, in advance of a decision on government funding for the road. The costs have astonishingly risen from £3.5m in 2000, to £27.5m in 2005. The occupation was followed by the press releasing of an extensive and deep underground tunnel system at the protest camp, and a further mass demonstration on 27 Jan in Ipswich, where the unelected Regional Partnership Group agreed behind closed doors and a heavy police presence, to recommend the government fund the road. The camp has received extensive TV coverage in the past few days and a great piece on BBC website -
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/essex/4672900.stm
Check out http://www.savepriorypark.org for more details, or call 01702 340099.

Forth Bridge (Scotland)

Much controversy in Scotland as Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling waded into the debate on increasing tolls on the Forth Bridge during the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election campaign. Brown announced the increases were being scrapped, before the Scottish Executive had made a decision, and Darling insisted that a new bridge was needed before the publication of a report into the future of the bridge. The new pricing regime has been put forward by the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA), as a way of rewarding car sharing, and reducing demand. So much for Darling's enthusiasm for road pricing... Did you know that Darling was a previous anti-road protester, being a founder member of the Forthright Alliance that defeated plans for another road bridge in the 1990s?

The Forthright Alliance have recently reformed - http://www.forthrightalliance.org

Scottish road protests are hotting up -
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-1506-2012373-1187,00.html
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,,1697284,00.html

A14 Ellington - Fen Ditton 'Improvement' (Cambridgeshire)

The judge in the judicial case (see RB bulletin 15 Jan) has ruled that the A14 Action Group must pay the costs for the case, from the date of the permission hearing. He did not allow the Highways Agency to recover their costs up to and including that hearing on the grounds that they failed to respond to initial letters from the group. The case had been bravely brought by local people against the government, regarding the lack of consultation on the route which had moved significantly closer to villagers. The written ruling is due out any minute. Contributions are needed for the group's legal costs.
Please see http://www.offordsa14actiongroup.co.uk/

A303 Stonehenge (Wiltshire)

The Government has just announced a public consultation on five new options for "improving" (i.e. widening) the A303 through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire - four highly destructive previously rejected old options, plus a minor tweaking of the existing road that would increase traffic pressure for another new road. There was worldwide press coverage - from Hindustan to Melbourne - when RSPB revealed that two of the options would destroy nesting sites of the rare stone curlew, and would also harm more than 25 other bird species and 14 butterfly species. Although transport minister Stephen Ladyman winged on 1 Feb about spending money on an expensive "long-bore" tunnel favoured by some archaeologists: "We called a review when we realised it would have been cheaper to move the stones and the mountain they were sitting on.", his review does not include any of the far cheaper, much more cost-effective "do minimum", "do nothing", and public transport options favoured by transport groups. Why not? Twelve groups representing environmental, archaeological, and transport interests damned the new proposals within hours of their announcement (The National Trust, CPRE, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, ICOMOS-UK, Council For British Archaeology, Rescue - British Archaeological Trust, Stonehenge Alliance, Save Stonehenge, Ancient Sacred Landscapes Network, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural Heritage Society). Meanwhile, parliamentary questions asked by Robert Key MP reveal that the Highways Agency and English Heritage have squandered a scandalous £23 million of taxpayers' money on their "Stonehenge Project" since 2000 - with absolutely no visible progress or public benefit.
More information at http://www.savestonehenge.org.uk/
and http://www.savestonehenge.org.uk/stonec.html#jan2006

47 Acle Straight dualling (Norfolk)

The Council for National Parks have written to the Chair of the East of England Examination in Public of the regional plan, warning that including road schemes within regional planning documents that would damage the top wildlife sites without an 'appropriate assessment' beforehand, could possibly break European law. This road scheme would damage Natura 2000 sites. It was not picked as a regional priority.

Tunstall Northern Bypass (Stoke)

Unfortunately plucky local resident Ian Norris lost his case against the DfT and Stoke council for starting work and approving CPOs on a road where the planning permission had run out. The road has been selected as a regional priority, and the government have yet to make a decision on whether to give the final go-ahead. The road has not been reappraised for a number of years, and would damage rare heathland.

M6 expansion (Staffordshire / Cheshire)

Following the exclusive stakeholder seminars held by the Highways Agency, people from Group Against Motorway Expansion (GAME) met with HA representatives, where they talked more frankly about their work, and promised to give us access to their models once they have been developed. The public meeting on 18 Jan was well attended with representatives from the whole length of the proposed expansion, and it is hoped that local groups will be formed. Local media interest continues to be strong, and BBC local radio and television have done a week long feature on the M6 options. Contribute to the debate at -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/stoke/content/articles/2006/01/26/m6_widening_debate_feature.shtml

Despite in 2004, 98% of over 9500 consultation respondents saying they wanted no road, the government are still ploughing ahead with this scheme (see RB bulletin 29 July and RB press release). The HA will only look at road building, and they refuse to discuss a third option of no expansion, or the issue of climate change. There is a meeting on Feb 14th in Stoke-on-Trent for activists to talk about building the campaign.
See http://nom6e.blogspot.com/

Titnore Lane (Sussex)

Government Office South East (GOSE) have refused to 'call-in' the planning application for a public inquiry. The planning application into the Titnore Lane housing development and access road has been deferred for a second time as the panel want more info on traffic. The council have been swamped by emails by local people fearful that if the development goes ahead, the area will not be included in the new South Downs National Park.
See http://www.protectourwoodland.fsnet.co.uk/5.1.06.htm

Norwich Northern Distributor Road (Norfolk)

The No N25 Campaign has had an encouraging letter from the Government Office for the East of England (GO-East) in response to one we sent to the chair of the East of England Plan Examination in Public (EiP) and copied to them. This was protesting at the East of England Regional Assembly taking a decision to recommend the scheme for regional funding without awaiting the result of the EiP. It said that before making a bid for Government funding, they will expect Norfolk Council to consult on its preferred route, something the Council have until now been refusing to do, claiming that their preferred three-quarter route was not materially different from the full routes on which they have consulted. They will now be forced to back down on this.
See http://www.norwichn25.org/

Shrewsbury NW Relief Road (Shropshire)

Shropshire County Council published the much-delayed consultation report, showing a 50/50 split against the road, although 52% opposed congestion charging which is essential to get the road funded through the Transport Innovation Fund. The council decided to include the scheme in the Local Transport Plan, although three county councillors in the town are against, and the local MP. They are investigating three very destructive routes, and spending £800,000 on studies.

A4071 Rugby Western Relief Road (Warwickshire)

A Public Inquiry in 2003 recommended that the contentious southern half, which would take 50 acres of farmland, be remitted for a new look at options. Labour County Councillors got the Inquiry reopened in 2005 under a new Inspector who recommended confirmation of the route, despite admitting that an alternative could be better, on grounds of delay. A final decision by the DfT is awaited, although the scheme has been made a regional funding priority. The second Inquiry was so unfairly run, with objectors given no time to consider the county council's late evidence, that a High Court challenge is possible.

Harlow North (Herts)

The Stop Harlow North campaign against a huge housing development and new road are presenting evidence to, and holding a demonstration, at the inquiry into the East of England's regional plan on 14 Feb.
See http://www.stopharlownorth.com/

Thames Gateway Bridge (London)

The Public Inquiry is due to recommence on 21 Feb after it was suspended for several months while Transport for London rewrote much of their evidence due to faulty traffic data.
See http://www.nobridge.org.uk/

A590 High Low Newton (Lake District)

Bids have come back from contractors, and surprise surprise they are well above the funding allocated for the scheme. More money has to be found for this scheme now, which will trash part of the Lake District.

No Widening M1

There was a launch of a No M1 group in Nottingham on 6 Jan. The Sheffield group have been making banners, and there is a benefit gig on 25 Feb in Sheffield, from 3pm to 2am.
To get more involved see http://www.nowideningm1.org.uk or phone 07759 851073

SEMMMS Relief Road Scheme (South East Manchester)

Unfortunately this huge £500 million scheme was picked as a regional priority, with government funding set at approx £38 million and the remaining money to come from the Private Finance Initiative. Two local Lib Dem MPs, Andrew Stunell and Mark Hunter, just met with transport minister Ladyman to lobby for the road, claiming they had a very sympathetic hearing. A planning application is expected later this year.

Kendal Northern Relief Road (Cumbria)

Cumbria County Council are proposing a £12m Northern Relief Road, a few hundred yards short of the Lake District National Park boundary near Kendal, despite it not being selected as a regional funding priority. A new protest group has formed "Transport Options Kendal" (T.O.K.). The Group is presently putting together a detailed case against the scheme together with suggestions for less harmful alternative measures. First moves in T.O.K's campaign include a letter of protest to the Government Office North West, and a demand, under the Freedom of Information Act, for the release of all Council documents relating to the proposed project.

Luton Northern Bypass (M1 - A6)

If this scheme gets the go-ahead, it would be a piece in the jigsaw for a potential outer M25 orbital road. Together with the Dunstable northern "bypass" link road from the A5 to M1, it would form the western arm of a new orbital. On the eastern side of the region, the A120 Stansted to Braintree would link into the A131 north of Chelmsford, a A130/A131 NE Chelmsford Bypass to feed into the already widened A130 south of Chelmsford and thereafter to a new lower Thames Crossing being promoted by East of England Regional Assembly in its draft regional plan. Route sections running from Dunstable round to Kent are also being upgraded piecemeal. Halcrow consultants are holding two consultation workshops on route options, all of which affect a Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on 20 Feb in Luton. For further information, contact David Oakley-Hill of Luton FoE - doh@boltblue.com

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(3) EVENTS

The next Roads and Airports direct action gathering will be held in Nottingham on Saturday 18th February. Please book in advance by telephoning 07944 874393 (places can't be guaranteed without advance booking). Accommodation may be available on the Friday night. Organised by Road Alert! http://www.roadalert.org.uk

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition (WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam etc) will be holding an event which will be a cross between lobbying and speed dating - called (can you guess?) Carbon Dating. It will take place in Westminster Central Hall in London. The idea is that up to 2000 people will come along, and meet various MPs for short periods of time, by moving from table to table - in the style of speed dating. Except for the topic of conversation will be climate change. This will give MPs a chance to meet the broad spectrum of people who are concerned about the issue, and give you a chance to meet with various influential MPs to make your feelings heard. Ten anti-road group representatives can attend. Please contact office@roadblock.org.uk for a place.
See http://stopclimatechaos.org.uk or email info@stopclimatechaos.org

for info. Power Up is a Friends of the Earth's Community Rights & Justice residential weekend on 19-21 May in Birmingham. Last year's was incredible. Come and learn all about how to use the planning system, how to use Freedom of Information, be inspired to take action, make a difference in your community. And it only costs £60 for the whole weekend.
For info, email powerup2006@foe.co.uk

A huge camp for action around climate change is being planned for the North of England from 26 Aug to 4 Sept.
See http://www.climatecamp.org.uk
and email info@climatecamp.org.uk if you want to get involved in working groups.

Tribal Voices recorded protest music in the 1990s, and is back and wants to record protest music.
Please see http://www.tribalvoices.org.uk/
To book a recording session and become involved, please contact Gaea at gaea@btinternet.com or call 07816 613150

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Road Block
PO Box 164, TOTNES, TQ9 5WX
020 7729 6973
07854 693067
office@roadblock.org.uk
http://www.roadblock.org.uk


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