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Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 06:32:32 +0100
Subject: Road Block e-bulletin - 20 Aug 07

Road Block e-bulletin * 20 Aug 2007

Road Block is a project of Transport 2000.
Road Block is a network of community groups and individuals against roadbuilding.



Transport and Climate news

- Road Block national conference: book your place now!
- Roadbuilding in the news!
- BBC4 documentary on roads resistance
- Car use, climate change and obesity linked
- New guidance on DfT funding for local road schemes
- Transport 2000 slams the Planning White Paper
- Free legal phone line for environmental groups
- Is there a noisy road through countryside near you?
- Biofuels would make climate change worse

Campaign Updates

- Inspector rejects Thames Gateway Bridge but government orders new inquiry!
- Government considering 10-lane superhighway on M1
- Unique archaeological 'serpent' pathway threatened by Rotherwas road
- Court challenge to Weymouth Relief Road fails
- Westbury Bypass to have a public inquiry
- Bexhill to Hastings Link Road losing friends
- Kingskerswell Bypass about to get busy
- Action to prevent inner ring road in Derby
- Mottram Tintwistle campaigners gearing up for inquiry
- Stockport tries to raid public transport cash for road scheme
- New campaign forming against the Ormskirk Bypass in Lancashire
- Heysham M6 Link fundraising effort
- Non-road alternatives to Wing Bypass examined by council!
- Non-road alternatives to Luton Northern Bypass examined also
- Sign Downing St e-petition to make an HIA mandatory for all roads in UK
- Titmore Woods prepares for winter



Road Block national conference - book your place now!

Transport 2000's Road Block conference will happen on Saturday 27 October 2007, 11am - 5pm, in Central Birmingham with special guest speaker George Monbiot.

Every year traffic, carbon emissions and road building increase. This madness has to stop, and the only way to stop it is by joining together. The Road Block national conference is a fantastic opportunity to meet others opposing road schemes, network, share information, learn skills and create a movement to defeat the road programme. This year will have a special focus on roads and climate change, and an emphasis on campaigners learning from one another. We hope to include sessions on carbon footprinting new roads, freedom of information and legal challenges, using the media, understanding roads scheme processes at local, regional and national levels, especially Regional Funding Allocation.

Early registration is strongly recommended. The registration fee of £20 waged (£10 low / unwaged) contributes towards the costs of the event.

To register, email
You will be able to book places online from Tuesday 21 August on Transport 2000's website.

Road building in the news!

Road building has been in the news a lot recently. Firstly Transport 2000 tipped off the Guardian about the massive cost of the proposed M6 widening which at £2.9 billion works out to be £1,000 per inch! This was then picked up in the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail. Then the M1 came under the spotlight as the Guardian revealed that the Government was planning to add not two but four new lanes to the M1 creating a 10-lane superhighway. Next came the cover story of the New Statesman. The article exposed the flaws in the DfT's decision-making structures that result in road schemes always being seen make economic sense. This is one of the strongest attacks on the DfT's appraisal system ever written and is essential reading for roads campaigners.

BBC4 documentary on roads resistance

Next week (Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 August at 9pm) a three-part documentary will air on BBC4. 'the Secret Life of the Motorway' will chronicle the first years of motorway building, through the 1960s and '70s and then cover the rise of anti-road protests in the 80s and 90s. Transport 2000's campaigns director and roads campaigner make an appearance because of their role in the Twyford Down protest.

Car use, climate change and obesity linked

A report published by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and Adrian Davis Associates highlights the car's connection to obesity and climate change. The report finds that if we all walked just an hour more a week what we did 30 years ago, when car ownership was less common we could help save up to 11 MtCO2 (15.4% of total emissions from passenger cars) and drop almost three pounds each year to boot.
Read the press release or the report.

New guidance on DfT funding for local road schemes

The DfT has just published new guidance for local authorities seeking DfT funding for new roads. It is basically the 'rule book' for those of you opposing local council road schemes. It is very strict about the need to examine non-road building alternatives and requires authorities to consider "measures that reduce or influence the need to travel... and other alternatives to address the problems in the area, such as public transport provision, demand management policies, traffic management measures and strategies".

It also requires local authorities to contribute at least 10% of the scheme costs, 50% of the preparatory costs (after the scheme has been entered into the programme), and 50% of any cost increases. The scheme must also have been prioritised by the region. The guidance will set the hurdles considerably higher for local authorities who wish to promote dead-end road schemes.

Transport 2000 slams the Planning White Paper

The consultation period closed on Friday for the Planning White Paper, whose proposals could make the planning system more unfair to objectors. We think thousands of people wrote in to oppose the proposals.

Free legal phone line for environmental groups

Friends of the Earth's Rights & Justice Centre offers free legal advice on environmental issues to anyone (not just FoE groups) concerned about the impact of public authority decisions; to people who don't feel they have been properly consulted; or to people who are simply unsure about their rights.

Contact FREEPHONE 0808 801 0405, 6.30-8.30pm on Wednesdays. The service is staffed by Friends of the Earth's legal staff and by volunteer lawyers. Individuals who contact the advice line will be given preliminary advice. Cases will then be either taken up by the Rights and Justice Centre or passed to an organisation that can help.

Is there a noisy road through countryside near you?

Transport for Quality of Life consultancy wants to talk to people about how traffic noise in a rural area has affected how they live their lives. By documenting their experiences they aim to show how noise from roads impacts those living in, working in and visiting the countryside. If you or your friends still have strong memories of how, for example, noise from a motorway built nearby in the 1980s has changed where you go to walk, ride, relax or how you can use your house or garden, please email Ian Taylor, Transport for Quality of Life,

Biofuels would make climate change worse

Increasing the production of biofuels will release more carbon gases than fossil fuels, according to the first comprehensive analysis of emissions from biofuels. The study, by Dr Righelato, with Dominick Spracklen from the University of Leeds, is the first to calculate the impact of biofuel carbon emissions across the whole cycle of planting, extraction and conversion into fuel. They report in the journal Science that you could save between two and nine times more carbon emissions if you trapped carbon in trees and forest soil rather than replace fossil fuels with biofuels. Biofuels are presented as an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels but there is growing evidence they would actually make climate change worse. The Government is heavily pushing biofuels as the way to tackle road transport emissions (rather than reducing the need to travel) making a commitment (under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation RTFO) for 5% of Britain's fuels to have a biofuel component. Meanwhile the EU commits all member states to substitute 10% of transport fuel with biofuels by 2020.



Inspector rejects Thames Gateway Bridge but Government orders new inquiry!

The Inspectors Report into the Thames Gateway Bridge, finally published at the end of July, dramatically rejected the £500m motorway bridge in south east London. However the Government did not want to hear that answer and so promptly ordered a fresh inquiry! The Inspector said the scheme was not in compliance with policies to reduce car-travel (PPG13), was counter to Government policies to tackle climate change, increased traffic and discouraged cycling and walking. He also ruled the traffic, economic and regeneration modelling was not robust enough.

This case was unusual in that Transport for London (the bridge promoters) had given objectors £60,000 to fight the bridge, in a deal with the Green Party, which holds the balance of power in the London Assembly. This enabled the objectors to mount a superb David v Goliath attack on the bridge, with TfL's budget set at £2m to fight for the scheme! It is expected TfL will have to fund the opposition again or risk being seen to be stitching things up.
Press release
The conclusions of the Inspector's Report are worth a read.

Government considering 10-lane superhighway on M1

The Government has been trialling opening the hard shoulder up to traffic (known as 'hard shoulder running') on the M42 as a cheaper alternative to full-scale widening. However recently the Government let slip that it was considering hard shoulder running on the M1 between junctions 21-30, but later told the Guardian that it was considering widening AND hard shoulder running on the M1, creating 4 lanes of traffic, and a 10-lane superhighway. Meanwhile, the Government gave the go-ahead for 'rapid widening' (no public inquiry) between junctions 25-28. No Widening M1 activists at the Climate Camp announced that the M1 could be the target of next years Climate Camp.

Unique archaeological 'serpent' pathway threatened by Rotherwas road

Hertfordshire County Council uncovered a unique and potentially very important Bronze Age archaeological find whilst starting work on the controversial Rotherwas Access Road. Officials at the council kept the find secret and local councillors only found out by hearing about it on BBC Radio 4's Today programme one morning!

The find seems to be a ceremonial path made of fire-cracked stones but its purpose is unknown. It is in the shape of a 'serpent' or a ribbon, and could be up to 1,500 feet long. The council has refused to answer questions, and instead ploughed on with the road, leading to a sit-in and arrests at a council meeting, including the arrest of the 70-year-old secretary of the local branch of CPRE! Next came the July rains, and the council allowed the site to flood, causing damage to the fragile serpent. Finally the council stopped work on the road and the serpent has been covered up to protect it whilst a decision on scheduling is awaited from English Heritage. The council want to cover it with a protective layer and bury it permanently under the road! Local campaigners, whether for or against the road, want the council to preserve the serpent as an amazing tourism opportunity for the county.

The excellent Rotherwas Ribbon website and the local road group's website have more info.
Sign the Rotherwas petition

Court challenge to Weymouth Relief Road fails

Transport 2000 and CPRE took Dorset County Council's Weymouth Relief Road to court on 15 August, because the planning application had not considered strict regional policies to protect the Dorset Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Unfortunately the judge ruled against us and said the way the council had considered another policy was good enough, and even if he ruled in our favour the council would just go ahead and grant itself planning permission all over again. This is a correct but sad statement on the UK roads planning system, where local councils apply to themselves for their own planning permission. Now the campaign is preparing for the forthcoming public inquiry into the compulsory purchase orders. Also the DfT is reassessing the scheme with the possibility of removing approval due to the costs for the road going through the roof (it was initially approved in December 2003 at £54m, but now costs stand at £80.4m).
Funds are urgently needed to hire experts to tackle the scheme reassessment and the public inquiry. Donate on the Bypass the Bypass website.

Westbury Bypass to have a public inquiry

Much to everyone's amazement, Wiltshire County Council's £35m Westbury Bypass plan has been called in by the Government for a public inquiry. The inquiry will examine the scheme in the context of sustainable development, integrated transport, landscape, biodiversity, regional and local planning policy and its impact on a rural part of England. Local people, represented by the Westbury Bypass Alliance, as well as parish councils affected by increased traffic, are joining with environmental groups, the A36/A350 Corridor Alliance (ACA) and national NGOs to form 'The White Horse Alliance' - the name is taken from the famous chalk figure on the edge of Salisbury Plain, above the tranquil valley the road would wreck.
Funding is urgently needed to defeat this disastrous scheme at public inquiry. Please make cheques out to 'White Horse Alliance', C/o ACA, Bramfield, Slab Lane, West Wellow, Romsey, Hants SO51 6BY. Find out more on the A36/A350 Corridor Alliance website.

Bexhill to Hastings Link Road losing friends...

Well the dust has settled on the planning application for the Hastings scheme, and it has emerged that both Natural England and the Environment Agency have sent in strong objections to the application. English Heritage also had strong criticisms. There hasn't been a final count of objections yet, but they are expected to be over 1,800. The scheme is really in trouble -- the costs have doubled from an approved £47m to £89m.
See the Hastings Alliance website for more info.

Kingskerswell Bypass about to get busy...

Devon County Council recently voted to submit a Business Case to Government for funding approval despite the fact that the costs have now gone up from £90m to £130m! The council also voted to publish Compulsory Purchase Orders, so there will be a public inquiry soon also. The Kingskerswell Alliance is gearing up for a critical phase of the long-running campaign to find sustainable solutions to the area's transport problems.
The campaign will need funds please consider donating to the campaign fighting fund.

Action to prevent inner ring road in Derby

Derby HEART is awaiting the outcome of the public inquiry. But Derby City Council isn't waiting for the result: it's spending £100,000s of public money doing preparatory works even though a go-ahead may not be given. Even worse, these advanced works are being funded by money taken from a budget that is supposed to regenerate a deprived neighbourhood. Meanwhile, one very big spanner in the road builder's plans is that a claim has been made that part of the route should be considered a village green. Land can be designated a village green if it has been used for public local recreation for more than 20 years. Village Green status gives land greater protection.

The council is now refusing to answer any further questions about their controversial and expensive road scheme, claiming that legitimate questions are 'vexatious'. This council tactic is disgraceful because it is stopping people having legitimate access to information to understand fully the council's road-building plans. This denial of access to information is being challenged. See the Derby HEART website.

Shropshire delays funding bid for Shrewsbury road

Due to the controversial nature of the bid for funding for a road-pricing package that includes a highly damaging road scheme, Shropshire County Council voted to delay putting in its bid for Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) funding to government.

Meanwhile Transport 2000's evidence to the Transport Select Committee hit home as its inquiry into TIF mentioned our evidence that many councils were using TIF funding to try and get funding for dodgy old road schemes that couldn't get funding elsewhere. They said "we would be concerned if the Congestion TIF was used to implement extensive road building plans. Large-scale road building schemes would increase car dependency and increase traffic, rather than encourage modal shift. This would run completely counter to the aims of the TIF". The committee of MPs urged the DfT "to be vigilant in preventing opportunistic attempts to access Congestion TIF funds to support long-standing, controversial and expensive road building programmes".

Mottram Tintwistle campaigners gearing up for inquiry

All objectors have now submitted their evidence to the Inquiry. All the Objectors, Supporters, and Promoters documents can be found on the inquiry website. The local group, Save Swallow's Wood, has also posted its evidence online. The inquiry will resume on 4 September when Objectors (Natural England, Peak District National Park Authority, etc.) will begin giving their evidence and will also have the opportunity to cross-examine the Highways Agency and Tameside. The Inquiry is expected to finish in November.

Campaigners are organising a number of social events during the coming months, and will also be supporting the first-ever Critical Mass bike ride in Glossop, which has received excellent coverage in the local paper.
See Save Swallows Wood website to get involved.

Stockport tries to raid public transport cash for road scheme

A collection of Greater Manchester councils have just asked the Government for a huge amount of cash for public transport and to trial road pricing. However Stockport council is trying to sneak its massive SEMMMS road schemes into the package bid to the Transport Innovation Fund. This can hardly be considered innovative, since the bypass has been repeatedly rejected since 1928, and most recently in July this year!
See Stockport FoE website.

New campaign forming against the Ormskirk Bypass in Lancashire

Lancashire County Council seems to be fearing that it may lose its beloved Heysham M6 Link (see below) so it is lining up the Ormskirk Bypass in Lancashire to take its place. A planning application should be submitted in the autumn. A new group Protect Rural Ormskirk, or PRO has been set up to stop the top.
Sign the petition against the bypass.

Heysham M6 Link fundraising effort

The impressive Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecombe (TSLM) group has just finished a five-week public inquiry into the scheme. TSLM managed to raise £25,000 to fight the inquiry thanks to an inspiring fundraising effort. Take a look at TSLM's website for motivation.Now the group will have to wait for the Inspector's report and the Government's decision.

Non-road alternatives to Wing Bypass examined by council...!

Buckinghamshire County Council and South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth have commissioned top transport consultants Steer Davis Gleave to examine alternatives to building the Wing Bypass. The report, supported by parish councils and landowners along the route, will examine whether a package of measures including walking, cycling, better buses and smarter choices would tackle congestion, improve life for the villagers, increase accessibility and support Aylesbury's economy thereby being a viable alternative to the bypass. The road scheme would effectively create a dual carriageway link between the M1 and the A41, creating an M25 bypass.

The council need to decide whether to build the road, go with a scaled-down version of the road with some alternatives or choose a full package of alternative measures. The report will be completed in September. See the website for more info.

Non-road alternatives to Luton Northern Bypass examined also

Luton Northern Bypass would run from the M1 to the A505 near the A1 and Hitchin, around the north of Luton and through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is linked to the plans to build 26,000 houses in south Beds by 2021. Last year South Beds FoE threatened legal action against Luton Borough Council and Bedfordshire County Council because their consultants had not properly examined the public transport alternative. South Beds FoE commissioned their own consultant to produce a report on public transport alternatives, with the councils finally agreeing to include a non-road alternative to the routes in the public consultation for the plans for South Beds (the local development frameworks).
Please write to and support a non-road option to the Luton Northern Bypass.
More information is on the South Beds FoE website.

Sign Downing St e-petition to make an HIA mandatory for all roads in UK

The campaign against the A494/A55 in north Wales has set up a petition asking the Prime Minister to "initiate legislation that will make a health impact assessment (HIA) an explicit requirement for all proposals to augment UK roads infrastructure".
Please sign the petition.

Titmore Woods prepares for winter

The camp is still there and preparing for winter with a new communal area. The BBC has been doing a lot of filming and interviews at the camp and in Worthing for a series to be shown in late autumn. Also there is local media interest in the risk of run-off from the Titmore development overwhelming the already at-capacity local river Rife. It has been calculated that nearly 26 million litres will have to be stored in a balancing pond system to prevent flooding downstream.
See the Protect Our Woodland website for more information.

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