This is an archived press release
Friday 7 April 2006
7 April 2006
National Park Authority objects to A628 bypass plan
The Peak District National Park Authority is formally objecting to a proposed A628 bypass due to the impact of heavily-increased cross-Park traffic on the landscape and environment it is set up to protect.
The National Park Authority, at its meeting on April 7, called for a more comprehensive study of the alternatives by the Highways Agency, which proposes a 5.7km bypass north of Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle, aiming to relieve a bottle-neck of heavy trans-Pennine HGV traffic.
A 1.3km stretch of the bypass would pass through the National Park, and sensitive areas would also be affected by a predicted upsurge in traffic as a “short-cut” between Manchester and Sheffield, drawn to it from the M62.
With the bypass the Highways Agency predicts increases in A628 traffic (east of Tintwistle) by 84% (2001 to 2010), and 133% (2001 to 2025). Traffic flows on other cross-Park roads are forecast to increase 34% (2001 to 2025).
While sympathetic to the communities, the National Park Authority was concerned in particular about the impact on sensitive landscapes, including specially-protected moorland and woodland habitats, four national trails which cross it (including the Pennine Way), on air pollution, visual impact and loss of tranquillity.
Though the Authority previously supported a bypass in principle, it always reserved the right to object to the detailed plans if they conflicted with National Park objectives. In this respect, the Authority believes the special qualities of the National Park would be under threat due to:
- Adverse impact on the landscape, not only of the road and its infrastructure, but of the traffic itself
- Severe impact of air pollution and noise on access, recreation and protected habitats in the National Park
- Increases in traffic across the National Park.
Adjacent sensitive moorland habitats include a Special Area of Conservation and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
National Park chair Tony Hams said: “We are very concerned about the adverse impact on the National Park of the forecast increases in traffic, particularly of HGVs, on this heavily-used trans-Pennine route.
“In addition, we are not satisfied that all of the alternatives to the proposed scheme have been fully explored. We would like to see further work undertaken to develop a scheme that has less of an impact upon the National Park.
“We recognise the traffic problems in the villages and we are sympathetic, but the scheme that has been presented is not appropriate for a National Park setting, and would be detrimental to our statutory purposes.”
Alternatives could include consideration of a lorry ban combined with improvements to public transport, which would also take into account the impact on the wider National Park.
Four campaign groups gave their views to the Authority before its decision: Friends of the Peak District, Alternative Proposals on Transport, Save Swallows Wood and Woodhead Against Increased Traffic. Of the 254 letters to the Authority, only three had been in favour of the bypass. Authority Members voted 17 to four to object to the bypass, with two abstentions.
The final decision on the scheme is likely to go to a Public Inquiry, possibly in October. If the go-ahead were given, the earliest possible start for construction would be summer 2007, taking two years.