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Roads to Nowhere

Dual carriageway paves way for Manchester Airport expansion

Sian Berry's picture

4 December 2012: Kim Barrett from campaign group PAULA explains why you should join her in opposing the A6 to Manchester Airport Link Road.

Kim BarrettWhen somebody wants to sell you something, they’ll go to the ends of the earth to convince you that you need it.  Sadly, much of what the current government is trying to sell us could actually bring about the end of the earth. 

Cheshire East Council has recently begun switching off street lighting at night, to reduce carbon emissions, yet it is allowing a completely pointless dual carriageway to be built through its green belt. This is not a joke.

The A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road is being presented under the banner of SEMMMS, a multi-modal scheme designed to ease local congestion to the south east of Manchester, of which road-building was one small element.  Among the core aims was encouraging people to use their cars less and it was emphasised that the scheme would only work if all the varying aspects were introduced.

A6-Manchester Airport Link Road bannerCollective amnesia has since struck the councils involved – Manchester, Stockport and Cheshire East – and what they’re proposing now is the least useful bit, a dual carriageway which ploughs through ancient woodland, as well as green belt, before grinding to a chaotic halt at the single carriageway A6, which is already heavily congested.  There will be no easing of local congestion with this road – it will actually get worse – and this is now nothing more than a route to the airport, George Osborne’s massively expanded airport with its Enterprise Zone and World Logistics Hub.

I should concede that there is one town that will probably see a drop in traffic and that’s Wilmslow, in the constituency of… George Osborne.

PAULA (Poynton Against Unnecessary Link-Roads to the Airport) has called for an immediate suspension of the public consultation, which was launched a good fortnight before all the relevant information was available.  The local exhibitions have been presented with a comedy value of which Michael McIntyre would be proud.

Let me give you a couple of examples:  Me: What does a noise increase of 5db or more mean?  Is that 6db or 600?  Stockport Council rep:  I have no idea.  It could be tearing a piece of paper or a jumbo jet taking off.  Me:  The A6 through Disley, which is already an Air Quality Management Area - this road will make air quality worse there.  Aren’t you supposed to be improving it?  Stockport Council rep:  Yes, that’s unfortunate.  It’s not a legal requirement, though. 

The Business Case has more holes than Jim Royle’s vest and the traffic modelling is a delightful work of fiction.  There is one road in particular, already at a standstill during rush hour, that will see a 23% increase in daily movements.  Stockport Council has turned that into a 1% increase because, they say, there would be 22% more traffic if the road weren’t built.  However, their spokeswoman has unwittingly showed us exactly where they’re going wrong.  The graph she sent us reveals they’re using a study period of 1993 to 2010, to try to justify their projection of a huge increase in traffic but the graph also shows a dramatic fall since 2007. 

The first of the consultation leaflets – they really aren’t making this process easy – proclaims that when they last asked residents about this road, 92% were in favour.  Unforgivably, they’re quoting figures for a very different scheme – the actual number in favour of building the road they’re proposing now was 26%. 

It’s true that they have consulted before, because this road has been proposed, in one form or another, since the 1930s.  The question is, if it were so important, why hasn’t it been built already? The answer is simple:  it’s not important at all.  As David Rutley, MP for Macclesfield, admitted recently, as he stood and gazed at the stunning area by Mill Hill Hollow that will be obliterated by the road, if it weren’t for the current economic situation, they wouldn’t even be considering building it now. 

So every avenue leads us to one conclusion: the Government is trying to build itself out of trouble and this road is just another ingredient in George Osborne’s half-baked plans for Manchester Airport, which in turn will lay the foundations for a third runway. Sorry, did I say that out loud?

PAULA is urging everyone who is concerned about the Link Road and the plans to expand Manchester Airport to respond to the consultation with a resounding ‘no’.

A guest post by Kim Barrett

More information:

PAULA website:  http://www.saveourgreenbelt.uk.com/

SEMMMS consultation website: http://www.semmms.info/a6/consultation/

Listen to Kim on Stockport’s Pure FM, debating these issues with Cheadle MP Mark Hunter

You can also find out more on our interactive map of road schemes across the country.