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South Bristol Link Road

Update November 2013: The scheme was approved by the local planning committees. Local campaigners condemned the decision, saying:

"Following the decision by Bristol City Council's South and East Planning Committee to approve the South Bristol Link by 8 votes to 2 on Wednesday night (27th Nov), the future of  transport for the city and the environment of its Western greenbelt in Ashton Vale and for Bishopsworth residents looks  grim."

Update October 2013: The planning committees are still accepting objections to this scheme. Campaigner Pip Sheard has blogged for us about how you can send in your objections and join up to the campaign via a new website.

Update August 2013: A planning application for the road has been submitted to Bristol City Council and North Somerset Council - the deadline for objections was 21st August.

Read below some of the objections submitted to the councils from national and local organisations, alongside scores of local residents:

Update May 2012: A pre-planning consultation on the bus rapid transit and road proposals has been launched. The plans can be seen in full online and at exhibitions around the area:

Update November 2011: The Chancellor's Autumn Statement announced approval for 20 of the Development Pool schemes, including - disastrously - the South Bristol Link Road. There's a long way to go before this damaging road can be built but, along with local campaigners, we're very disappointed at this short-sighted decision to fund it.

Cutting through green space in Bristol

South Bristol Link Road campaign posterThis road was originally called the South Bristol Ring Road and was planned as a dual carriageway in three stages cutting though the green belt and the residential areas of Highridge, Bishopsworth , Hartcliffe and Whitchurch. Stage 3 was dropped after public opposition and the road was renamed the ‘South Bristol Link’.

It is now planned as a 5km single carriageway road, with a Bus Rapid Transit attached. The road and BRT are being promoted to ‘improve access to Central Bristol and to the strategic road network’.  Another stated aim of the scheme is improve access to Bristol Airport, which has been granted permission to expand its capacity to 10 million passengers a year.

Why this is a road to nowhere

Local campaigners believe this approach to local transport is completely wrong. The proposers of the scheme – a coalition of local authorities called the West of England Partnership (WEP) – have put five proposed schemes into the development pool. The SBLR is by far the worst scheme of the five.

  • The SBLR destroys agricultural land on the edge of the city, opens the greenbelt up to development, cuts across rural brooks and a long distance footpath in several places and will be a prominent scar on the landscape .It severs the residential areas of Highridge, Bishopsworth and Withywood introducing air pollution, noise and traffic to existing green space and Highridge Common.
  • It is very likely to overrun in cost due to public opposition and the scale of engineering involved such as culverting and bridging of local brooks, subway under rail line, crossing a landfill site.
  • The scheme is poor public transport value for money. The Bus Rapid Transit will be a low passenger, low frequency service which is likely to need local subsidy because it runs for over half its length through countryside and has only four stops in the built up area before its terminus. The road will not reduce traffic. It will redistribute it. There will be no permanent relief from traffic as no reduction in road capacity is planned. Any relief is likely to be small and temporary

Local campaigners:

The Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance (TfGB) is opposing the South Bristol Link Road.

They say:

"We are dismayed that the Department for Transport has agreed to fund the South Bristol Link Road. We will continue to oppose a major new road through the city's south west greenbelt with its loss making Bus Rapid Transit. Our groups will be meeting to discuss further action which is likely to include discussions with Bristol City Council. We will continue to propose Portishead rail reopening as an alternative scheme which we believe has greater public support."

Better ideas:

Instead of the road, TfGB have proposed that the West of England Partnership should apply for funding for the reopening of the Portishead rail line with new stations at Ashton Gate, Portishead and Pill. In Jan 2010,they sent over 1,000 postcards to the four Executive Members of WEP asking them to switch from the SBL to Portishead. They declined. TfGB do not consider that Bristol Council can afford the £42m local contribution required for three BRTs and believe this scheme should now be dropped.

TfGB has been campaigning for an Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) for the whole West of England area since 2006. An ITA would be champion of public transport, with powers over rail and bus services, could plan 'integrated' schemes and would give a higher profile to public transport across a wide area.

Campaigners have shown that local people would welcome an ITA for Bristol. Bristol City Councillors also unanimously passed a motion in favour of considering an ITA in 2007, and local bus companies First and Wessex Connect support the idea. The local paper the Evening Post is mounting a current campaign in favour of an ITA.

Campaign for Better Transport's view:

Drawing on the views of expert consultants and local campaigners, in 2011 we submitted detailed objections to funding the South Bristol Link Road proposa to the Department for Transport:

Download our detailed briefing on the problems with this road here (pdf)

Download the report from consultants MTRU on the South Bristol Link (pdf)

Download the response letter from the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance (pdf)

Related news:

South Bristol Link faces strengthening opposition