Area covered: Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire
Interests: Road building
The A36/A350 Corridor Alliance (ACA) is an umbrella organisation that came out of the Twyford Down campaign and was set up in 1993. It brought together local environmental groups, originally along a corridor from Southampton to Bristol, but in more recent years has widened to cover a general corridor from the south coast in Dorset and Hampshire to the western M4.
ACA's aim, in the post-motorway-building age, has been primarily to prevent a creeping process of linking ostensibly local relief roads into a new, but undeclared, strategic corridor. Over 16 years a number of highly unsuitable road schemes have been successfully contested, beginning with Department of Transport projects along the A36, from the Wellow Bypass in Hampshire, through the DoT's Salisbury Bypass and its various council-promoted successors, the Wylye Valley Relief Road, the Codford-Heytesbury 'Improvement' and most recently the A350 Westbury Bypass in Wiltshire. Despite the defeats of these dud schemes (which cost Wiltshire county council the best part of £8m to develop), the road-building ambitions - in particular of Wiltshire and Dorset County Councils - are undiminished, though increasingly unrealistic. Still-desired schemes along the A350 corridor include a Shaftesbury Eastern Bypass, a new alignment of the A350 on to the C13 route, and projects in Wiltshire's planned 'A350 growth corridor' through West Wiltshire – at Yarnbrook-West Ashton, Melksham and Chippenham.
In defeating the Westbury Bypass, ACA brought together another grouping of 12 local, regional and national groups ranging from parish councils to the Woodland Trust, which became the White Horse Alliance (WHA). Because Westbury was the biggest threat before us this was the main focus of ACA campaigning and the ACA website domain was dedicated to the WHA activities. Since the defeat of Westbury, however, there is a new threat to the whole of West Wiltshire, because Wiltshire Council now sees its road ambitions being funded by major housing and employment land developments along the A350 corridor. Wiltshire has embraced the Coalition's growth-at-all-costs ideas and Eric Pickles' anything-goes planning reforms with enormous enthusiasm. This is the new battleground and ACA and WHA will continue to operate together (sharing meetings) for some time to come. We have yet to consolidate the victory over the Westbury bypass by securing landscape and wildlife designations strong enough to prevent the bypass returning as a developer-funded 'distributor road'. Wiltshire Council's emerging 'core strategy' (development framework to 2026) envisages a string of urban extensions large enough to pay for major road 'improvements' all the way from the M4 at Chippenham to the A36 at Warminster. We face the daunting challenge of trying to stop this late 20th Century vision of car-dependent suburban sprawl being realised in the era of peak oil, climate chaos and ever-dwindling reserves of land, food and water.