This is an archived press release
Friday 30 March 2007
30 March 2007
National Park Authority renews opposition to proposed A628 bypass
The Peak District National Park Authority today (March 30) renewed its opposition to the Highways Agency’s proposed Mottram-Tintwistle bypass – and warned it would like to scrap its support in principle for a bypass-scheme.
Its prime concern is the severe knock-on effects of more trans-Pennine HGV traffic being drawn from the M62 to the A628 – across some of the most sensitive landscapes in the National Park.
Despite the Highways Agency adding extra traffic-restraint measures, the Authority believes it has not done enough to explore more environmentally-friendly alternatives to a bypass as a complete package.
These could include an HGV ban, public transport improvements and speed restraints.
Both the A628 and its offshoot the A6024 pass through highly-protected landscapes between Manchester and Sheffield/Barnsley, including the Longdendale Valley, Langsett and Woodhead.
These contain an internationally-important Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and Site of Special Scientific Interest, all of high wildlife-value which the Authority is statutorily-bound to conserve and enhance.
In addition, four national trails cross the route, including the Pennine Way and Trans-Pennine Trail, used by thousands of walkers, cyclists and riders each year – who would be deterred by extra traffic.
Though the Authority agrees that relief is urgently-needed for the traffic-choked communities, it firmly believes the Highways Agency’s current proposals are not the right answer.
The Authority intends to review its support in principle for a relief road as given in its 1994 Structure Plan, saying that environmental thinking has changed since then. It is just beginning public consultation on a new Local Development Framework which would propose scrapping that principle in favour of the alternatives.
Authority chair Tony Hams said: “We would urge the Highways Agency to introduce speed reductions and enhanced safety measures immediately, helping to deter cross-Park traffic and relieve some of the congestion. At the same time, the Agency should do a comprehensive assessment of the alternatives to a bypass – and as a package, rather than individually.
“Authority Members feel strongly that not only should they object to the current scheme, but are also minded to remove support in principle for a relief road in the forthcoming review of the Local Development Framework.”
The Authority first opposed the current scheme last April, during the Highways Agency’s initial public consultation which attracted 1,400 objections and 1,000 letters of support.
Since then a public inquiry has been delayed until June and the Highways Agency has proposed traffic-restraints (such as 40-50mph speed-limits and traffic lights) to address some of the objections.
However, says the Authority, the new measures still do not address the problems of:
- a 34% increase in traffic on the A628 east of Tintwistle from 2015 as vehicles transfer from other major trans-Pennine routes, notably the M62
- the serious impact this would have on the landscape, wildlife, plantlife, tranquillity and access to highly-significant heather moorlands and woodland in the National Park
- a failure to assess alternatives as a comprehensive package, including a lorry-ban combined with speed-limits and public transport improvements.
The Authority has received 276 letters from the public on the bypass-scheme, 95 per cent objecting.
The North West Regional Assembly has put back the proposed opening of the bypass from 2010 to 2015.