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Public enquiry to be held into Westbury Bypass

11 July 2007
Planning minister Baroness Andrews has granted an independent public inquiry into the controversial Westbury Bypass after lobbying by Transport 2000 [1] and other groups. The road scheme would pass in front of the famous Westbury White Horse and through a tranquil valley, damaging the habitat of dormice and 13 of the 16 UK bat species.

Wiltshire County Council resolved to grant itself planning permission for the Westbury Bypass on 16 May. However, the government issued an Article 14 direction on 20 June, preventing the full grant of planning permission until a decision had been taken on whether to hold an inquiry or not.

Transport 2000 wrote jointly to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with CPRE and Friends of the Earth on 24 May, and again on 3 July, stating the urgent need for an independent public inquiry. They argued that the scheme was in conflict with national and regional policies on sustainable development and protecting endangered species. They were joined in their calls by local campaign groups the A36/A350 Corridor Alliance [2] and the Westbury Bypass Alliance [3], as well as the local MP Dr Andrew Murrison, and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust [4].

The government will appoint an Inspector and an independent inquiry will be held later in the year.

Transport 2000`s roads and climate campaigner Rebecca Lush said:

"The Westbury Bypass urgently needs to be exposed to scrutiny and so we are very happy that there will be a full inquiry. The road scheme would generate more traffic, increase carbon emissions and damage stunning landscapes that provide habitats for protected species. The council must now look at the sustainable alternatives to reduce traffic in the town."

Notes to editors

[1] Transport 2000 is an independent campaigning and research body that represents the key transport interests of around 40 environmental groups, transport organisations and transport unions. We bring together people who seek to reduce the environmental and social effects of transport through encouraging less use of cars, lorries and planes and more use of rail, buses, trams, cycling and walking.

[2] The A36/A350 Corridor Alliance brings together local groups opposed to the creation of a strategic highway from the M4 to the South Coast. See http://www.corridor-alliance.co.uk. [3] See http://www.westbury-wilts-bypass.info/.

[4] See http://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/.