28 August 2014
Campaign for Better Transport condemns planning approval being given to the A556 Knutsford to Bowden scheme, but wins a lower speed limit on the new road, due to its air pollution impact.
Sian Berry, Roads and Sustainable Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport, said:
"This scheme will cause huge damage to the Green Belt, and increase air pollution across a wide area - affecting many parts of Manchester as well as homes in the immediate area. However, the decision to limit the speed on the new dual carriageway to 60mph at least shows that Government cannot ignore the effect of air pollution on people's health (3).
"The decision to approve the road raises a bigger issue. It uses the draft National Policy Statement on National Networks to justify the road building project. We are very concerned that this draft Statement is based on predictions of massive future increases in congestion and can therefore be used to justify almost any road scheme that anyone can come up with, however bad the effect on communities, air pollution or indeed Green Belts and National Parks. We believe the Government must rewrite this policy before it is finalised to give a more balanced approach to road and transport planning."
Notes to Editors
1. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
2. The Planning Inspectorate have today published the Secretary of State's decision to approve the Application by Highways Agency for an Order Granting Development Consent for the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon Improvement Scheme in the letter here: http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/document/2679251
3. The 60mph speed limit was only proposed by the Highways Agency after Campaign for Better Transport pointed out that their Environmental Statement showed several places where legal limits for air pollution would be breached as a result of the road (see link to submission here). The examiner's changes to the Development Consent Order now make this speed limit permanent until the HA can demonstrate there is no risk of exceeding legal limits by increasing the speed to 70mph (the HA originally proposed the lower speed limit only for 5 years). See page 299 of the examiner's report here, which states:
"The speed limit referred to in Part 5 of Schedule 3 shall remain in place until the results of air quality monitoring indicate that air quality has improved sufficiently to allow the authorised development to operate at 70mph, pursuant to a monitoring strategy developed in consultation with the relevant planning authority."