The top ten worst technical things about the road
Summarised from the “Review of the Case for the Heysham M6 Link Road” by a national planning expert, commissioned by TSLM.
1. The road would not reduce congestion.
On many roads there would be little reduction in traffic. On the most
congested routes the reduction is so insignificant that it would not
make much difference. In any case, induced traffic (created by the new
road) would quickly erode any temporary relief.
2. The road would not create opportunities to improve walking, cycling and public transport.
The opportunities are either already there or not possible even with the
new road. The only specific proposal, for a footway/ cycleway along the
new road, would be unattractive and not well used.
3. The road would not regenerate the area.
Regeneration benefits of new roads are at best unproven, and at worst a mirage. The
Economic Impact Report claims that all existing development land will
fill with jobs if the road is built. But it offers no proof. Indeed,
without a road, development land is already being used and Heysham port
is expanding. Labour mobility is not a problem; the vast majority of
commuters live within 3 miles of their work, so would benefit more from
improved public transport, rather than having to depend on their cars.
4. The road would not benefit 97.5% of traffic on the network.
Of the four overall objectives, faster journey times to the Port of
Heysham is the only one which the proposal partially satisfies; but it
benefits only 2.5% of traffic on the district’s roads.
5. The scheme fails to follow government guidance.
It ignores Government guidance on the appraisal process. There should be
real alternatives to a roads-led solution, but they are completely
absent. This perpetuates a now discredited belief that in an urban
context major new road capacity can provide lasting relief to the
DfT guidance insists that many options are identified and appraised, and
the most suitable ones selected, progressively, to reach a preferred
solution, a next best option and a low cost alternative. This procedure
has not been followed. Indeed, LCC has presented the western route as
the 'next-best option': an absurd choice, as it was rejected out of hand
12 months earlier and is described by LCC as "unbuildable"!
This is part of a wider failing to follow government guidance on the
appraisal process, which undermines many aspects of the scheme and has
contributed to its lack of public acceptance.
6. The scheme does not satisfy regional objectives and priorities.
The regional priority is improvements to the road link to the port of
Heysham, not a new road link. New road construction should only be the
option of last resort; the emphasis should be on making the best use of
the existing infrastructure.
7. The public has not been consulted.
Massive public opposition to the scheme has been ignored. This contravenes
government guidance: consultation with stakeholders, people or
organisations affected by the scheme, should be an integral part of the
8. Traffic modelling is questionable.
Where there is serious congestion, and where most existing local traffic will
not reassign to the new road, it is misguided to pretend that traffic
levels on existing roads will not rise back towards the current
situation fairly rapidly. This could only be avoided with significant
demand management measures, like road user charging, fully integrated
into the solution.
9. Highway design is questionable.
The remodelling of M6 Junction 34 is very complicated. For example, to
reach the new road from the M6 Southbound, one travels across the river,
round a cloverleaf exit, under the motorway, turn right across a major
stream of traffic coming out of Lancaster, back across the river,
arriving 2.5 km later at the roundabout 150m from the motorway. It is a
poor design solution, and contributes to the very high scheme costs.
10. Value for money is poor.
LCC’s assessment relies too much on 60 year forecasts and unproven
regeneration benefits. It ignores impacts which cannot be given a money
value, but which guidance insists must be evaluated in the value for
money analysis, for example, the effect on the landscape. Costs will
inevitably increase: already, the Lune bridge has been judged defective,
and must be redesigned with a wider span.
A long time ago, the planners decided that a new road was needed to
access the Heysham peninsula. The western route was rejected in 2004,
and the northern route became the preferred scheme. Present guidance
requires the process to start with a “blank sheet” and a wide range of
possible solutions, and to explore how different solutions could work
together. This scheme has not followed that recommended process.
The Northern Route will not solve the district’s congestion problems.
Other less damaging solutions must be identified and appraised before
this scheme is even considered.