Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM)
is a group of concerned local residents and organisations. TSLM is independent, not run by any political party or other group.
‘TOP TEN’ WORST THINGS ABOUT THE HEYSHAM M6 LINK
1. The road is not designed or intended to combat our local traffic problems.
Its main purpose is to improve HGV access to Heysham Port. The hope is
to attract more HGV lorries into the area, not fewer. Traffic to Heysham
Port currently constitutes less than 3% of traffic crossing the Lune
bridges. Heysham Port handles just 0.7% of the tonnage moved through all
UK ports, and is a minor West Coast port compared to Liverpool.
The prime objective of the scheme is to improve communications between
Morecambe, Heysham (particularly the Port of Heysham) and the M6.
Port-related HGV traffic makes up a very small proportion (less than 3%)
of existing traffic and the contribution to Lancashire’s economy is
exaggerated. It employs only about 100 people directly, and handles just
0.7% of tonnage moved through all UK ports. Recent changes in ownership
(for the third time in four years) suggest an uncertain future.
The perception that port traffic congests local roads can be dispelled by
studying data presented in the Major Scheme submission. The HGV modal
split in total is a small percentage. 1998 data suggest that 325,000
freight vehicles used Heysham on an annual basis. Projected increases
will add about 75,000 vehicle movements by about 2007/2008. (Lancaster
Guardian 18th Mar 2005). Daily flow will then become a projected 1,100 vehicles.
Using LCC traffic flow projections for the “Do Minimum” scenario in 2010,
this means that freight traffic from the Port of Heysham accounts for
about 3-4% of the total traffic flow across the Skerton and Greyhound
bridges. Journey times between the port and Junction 34 are predicted to
be 19.6 minutes without a link, and 10.3 with it. The projected time
and cost savings for port traffic is relatively insignificant as a
proportion of the total costs for freight journeys that end or originate
well beyond the Lancaster transport boundary.
The amount of HGV traffic encouraged to divert to Heysham will be limited
when the major origination points of this traffic are from the south and
east. HGV traffic using west coast ports to and from Eire will consider
the substantial costs of travelling a further 30 miles beyond Liverpool
as a major drawback against the benefits of just a few minutes time
saving. Heysham Port is therefore already disadvantaged both in terms of
costs and facilities offered.
2. The local Morecambe-Lancaster congestion problem is not properly addressed.
Lancashire County Council admit that this is not a congestion relief
road. 80% of car journeys in the district are local. If the Northern
Route were built, many residents would still be crying out for a relief
road, but the money would have been spent and the congestion would have
While traffic flows on the Lune bridges are forecast to reduce in the opening
year, those on the Lancaster gyratory system barely change, and
district congestion problems are not addressed. Within a decade or so,
traffic growth will bring volumes in Lancaster back to current levels.
The Major Scheme Business Case includes traffic flow projections for 2010
and 2025, with and without the link road. They show that traffic in 2025
in Lancaster would be considerably higher than 2001 levels. Most parts
of the District will have similar or worse traffic in 2025 with the link
road than in 2001 without it.
Lancaster Centre, Galgate, Heysham, Torrisholme, White Lund, Hest Bank, and
Conder Green and Slyne would all have significantly more traffic in 2025
than in 2001. Greyhound Bridge, parts of Skerton and the Coastal Road
between Morecambe and Carnforth are the only areas which would
have significantly less traffic in 2025.
This points to the complete failure of the scheme to achieve its aim of
relieving traffic in Lancaster. The 2001 public consultation brochure
only showed opening year traffic flows and did not say how long it would
take for traffic growth to outstrip temporary reductions.
No data is presented in the Business Case to analyse the true causes of
congestion in the district. However, survey data presented by LCC (at
the Lancaster Local Plan Public Inquiry in October 1998) suggests that,
of vehicles crossing the Lune bridges daily, only 9.5% were travelling
to or from the M6, and a further 10.5% were travelling between the A6
So only 10-20% of traffic in the most congested part of the network can be
considered long-distance through-traffic. The rest is locally generated
and many journeys could be transferred to other modes.
But LCC has not presented any proposals for alternative travel modes that are
independent of the link road.
3. There is no convincing evidence that the road will regenerate Morecambe or
Heysham. The HGVs are only passing through on their way to Ireland. This
is no regeneration ‘master plan’. Significant developments like
Luneside and the Bailrigg Industrial Park are ignored by this proposal.
Regeneration claims are not supported by evidence, and remain mere pipe
dreams. Even at the Lancaster Business Park, which has excellent access
to the motorway, the uptake of land has been poor
(1.5 ha out of 8 ha between 1998 and 2004).
One of the main justifications of the road is the economic regeneration of
the district, but the Council's "Economic Impact Report", which makes
this claim, is not based on impartial analysis, but on wishful thinking.
The Council calculates that 6,014 jobs will be created on 6 sites, but
the sums are bogus. It claims: available land exists, if the road is
built, the land will fill with jobs. But it doesn't say how.
Some sites have problems with land contamination: who will pay for the
And how many jobs will be lost, as outside businesses can
serve the district more easily? Any road-building project means that
wealth and jobs can flow out of a district as well as into it.
Lancaster Business Park is being developed now, but the take-up of land has been
low (1.5 hectares out of 8 ha between 1998 and 2004). So access to the
motorway does not mean that available land will automatically be
developed. The road would not help Bailrigg Business Park, which the
NWDA has identified as the only critical Business Development Site in
the district, or the Luneside regeneration area, which is a matter of
local & regional priority.
There is no evidence to show that building a link road would assist the
development of tourism. That depends more on local attractions, weather,
and cheap flights abroad, rather than journey times through Lancaster.
A recent business survey found that most businesses had difficulties
recruiting staff. By far the biggest reason given was the lack of
applicants with the right skills. Not lack of a link road - lack of
skills. We believe that a better way to achieve regeneration would be to
invest in local businesses and skills.
4. The cost of the road is escalating rapidly, at present above £118million.
In 2001 the general public were told that the cost of the scheme would
be £62million. Given the destruction and damage which would indisputably
occur, and the fact that the congestion problem will still be with us,
we must ask whether this project represents value for money.
The cost of the scheme in the Business Case is £118 million (at 2002
values). This is much higher than the £62 million cost of the scheme
that was conveyed to the general public in 2001. Even in 2004/5 LCC has
been presenting costs in the order of £87 million, failing to reflect
the maintenance and taxation elements, and the government requirement
for a 35% optimism bias.
The costs presented do not include those associated with noise mitigation
measures. The Faber Maunsell report cautions that where other
significant costs cannot be presented in monetised form then the
analysis presented does not provide a good measure of value for money.
The capital costs of the scheme do not include estimates for maintenance,
which may be considerable within the design life horizon of the road.
Phase 1 of the Link road is already requiring substantial remedial work
to the street lights due to corrosion caused by coastal salt. This
amounts to several hundreds of thousand pounds and comes within 10 years
of its opening date.
5. There has been no meaningful public consultation following the release of
detailed proposals. Lancashire County Council has not measured the
support or opposition to this scheme. The general public consultation in
2001, before the decision was taken and plans published, showed only
15% of those polled favoured road building as our major transport
priority. The only recent measure of public opinion is a questionnaire
organised by LCC following their exhibition in May 2005, in which 76% of
people, having seen the plans, were opposed to the building of the
There has been no real consultation on these plans and LCC still use the MORI
2001 poll for justification. They claim it shows 79% wanted a link
road, but the actual support for the northern route was: 16% strongly support and 28% tend to support.
Only road-building alternatives were offered (“a bypass, or nothing”). The
same poll asked which policies people would support to solve transport
problems in Lancaster. Only 15% wanted to build more roads, but 42%
wanted to improve public transport and other alternatives to the car.
Since then, the detailed plans have been revealed. In the only recent test of
public opinion, people who saw the plans at the LCC exhibitions
completed LCC’s own questionnaires. When asked about the road, their
answers were: Strongly support 16%, tend to support 5%, tend to oppose 8%,
strongly oppose 68%. So 76% were clearly against this road once they saw
how massive and destructive it would be.
The exhibitions were held “to inform the public about the proposals”,
although LCC now claim they were consultations. In fact, many objections
were made, but only one produced a change (underpass on Torrisholme
Road). Again, no alternatives to building a road were offered.
6. It would destroy our countryside. The 5.1 km dual carriageway would wipe
out at least 70ha (173acres) of farmland in our Green Belt. It would
damage parts of biological heritage sites, such as the River Lune and
the Lancaster Canal, habitats which are important within our county.
Mature trees and ancient hedgerows would be swept away along with the
fields, causing a drastic reduction in
The new road would be in extreme contrast to the character of the Green
Belt north of Lancaster, and any mitigation measures would change the
natural coastal drumlin topography. The mature trees, hedgerow
vegetation and general openness of the landscape cannot be substituted.
The scheme would destroy over 70 hectares of agricultural land that are
feeding grounds for 5 species of bats recorded locally. There would be
major disruption to the travel and feeding patterns of these protected
species, and there may be a need for licensing approval.
Many veteran trees and over 11km of hedgerows would be removed, 87% of which
are protected under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997, losing what is
recognised as the most important habitat type for numerous flora and
fauna. Hedgerows would not have acceptable mitigation habitat for about
15 years or more, and the ultimate ecological structure would be very
different from that which exists now. Mature trees cannot be replaced
except in the extreme long term.
Lancashire County Council (LCC) would plant trees and screening at the A683 and
say it would be operational “in a short period of time”. But discussion
papers by ADAS (Agricultural Development & Advisory Service),
the consultants who studied the environmental effect of the road,
contradict this, and recognise that such vegetation takes 15 years or
more to become substantial screening, and even longer for mature trees
to develop. It is possible that they would not be replaced in our
7. The project would damage the environment. HGV noise, vibration and air
pollution would increase, as would greenhouse gasses. It is an extreme
contrast to the character of the area. The massive embankments and
cuttings would be an offensive blot on the landscape. The existing
starry night sky would be replaced by bright street lights, lit all
night, and lights from
Currently, most of the route is tranquil. To the West, the road would be on
massive embankments in order to cross Torrisholme Road at 26 ft and the
main coast railway line at 43 ft. Lights, lit all night “for safety
reasons”, would be 33 ft above that. Mitigation would be limited on the
severe banking. The road would be seen for miles around. Visual, noise
and light pollution would result.
Increases in greenhouse gases and local air pollutants are forecast. Carbon
dioxide (CO2) increases by 24,000 tonnes, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by 140
tonnes, Particulate Matter (PM10) by 4 tonnes. The Local Transport Plan
includes mandatory targets for PM10 and NO2. This would require a
reduction of 10% each year for 5 years. But it predicts a reduction of
only 3.2% in the first year, with later increases brought about by this
road scheme. This could jeopardise Britain’s ability to meet binding
international pollution targets.
The western edge of the proposed road is in an area that the Environment
Agency has designated as at risk to flooding, and is already prone to
poor drainage and localised flooding. Contaminated run-off held by the
SUDS (so-called “Sustainable Drainage Systems”) ponds might overspill
into the surrounding area. The SUDS ponds do not support wildlife. They
are drainage systems that are usually shallow and dry out for much of
the year. Rainfall brings concentrated petrochemical pollutants to the
ponds where they accumulate. This produces an environment with very
little ecological value.
Cuttings in the eastern end of the route may have severe impacts on the
surrounding water flows. Changes to the ground water levels may change
the nature of the agricultural land, which may no longer produce the
quality grazing for which it is valued.
Pillar supports for the link bridge will severely intrude into the bed of the
river, disrupting protected species (salmon, crayfish). Holding ponds
for salmon and siltation beds for crayfish will be especially vulnerable
to changes in the flow of the river and erosion to the banks and
riverbed. The River Lune, Howgill Brook, Long Bank Brook, Cote Beck now
have a “Good” water classification, but this may be compromised by the
building and operating of the new road.
8. The road would adversely impact on the health and well-being of our
communities. It would pass within 200m of 1,074 homes, exposing
thousands to exhaust, noise, vibration and light pollution. In
Torrisholme the community would be divided by a dual carriageway raised
26 ft in the air with lighting 33 ft above that. In Halton, the narrow
ancient streets would be metres away from motorway access. People who
currently enjoy the tranquillity of their gardens or a quiet walk to the
shops or school will have the stench and thunder of traffic to contend
with. Dog walkers and country strollers will have the eyesore of the
road and its noxious fumes in place of fresh air and birdsong. Our
quality of life is under serious threat.
LCC admit that the structure would have a major adverse impact in the
Torrisholme area. The Business Case states that it will “visually
separate and dominate the settlements of Scale Hall and Torrisholme in
this location, introducing a built feature which is out of scale with
the developments along the B5321”.
Halton would see an increase in traffic attracted to the new M6 link point.
The new Shefferlands roundabout would be very busy, coping with a
predicted 5,200 traffic movements per day. Slyne would see traffic
almost doubled on the A6 approaching the traffic lights at the access to
the link road.
The provision of an additional cycleway and footway alongside the busy
dual-carriageway is scant compensation. It is unlikely that people will
want to walk or cycle in such a polluted atmosphere.
Increasing road capacity, overall vehicle numbers and traffic speeds (70 mph)
could lead to increased accidents and accident severity. There have been
recent incidents of HGVs overturning at large roundabouts on the A683,
causing spillage and contamination. The prospect of future incidents
will be increased with two roundabouts on the proposed road with much
higher approach speeds.
There would be significant disruption to Lancaster and Morecambe College.
This contradicts Government objectives to improve the health and
physical well being of people, as it takes land from the college sports
fields, and separates students from the remainder by a busy dual
carriageway. It contradicts too the Government aim of enhancing
education opportunities: large traffic flows would be immediately
adjacent to teaching rooms, making it difficult for students to study.
9. The road is only the beginning of the destruction. There would be great
pressure for development along the route in quiet residential districts
of Torrisholme, Hammerton Hall, Beaumont, Slyne and Halton. Open spaces
would be replaced by new housing and industrial estates and this would
bring yet more traffic to our roads.
Most of the scheme is in the Green Belt. The raised part of the road would
affect the open character of this part of the countryside, contrary to
Green Belt policy. It would probably encourage "ribbon development" at a
later date. Regional Planning Guidance 13 policy SD3 refers to
Lancaster as a "historic town requiring continual conservation with
sensitive integration of development, where needed, plus a regard for
maintaining and enhancing [its] setting." It is hard to see how this
road scheme supports this end.
This area is part of Countryside Agency’s Joint Character Area 31 “Morecambe
Coast and Lune Estuary”. In its report “Countryside Quality Counts”,
which tracks change in the English countryside, this area was described
as suffering "change inconsistent with character". The road scheme would
make this worse. The scheme extends the urban footprint further into
the open countryside.
10. The scheme does nothing to curb car usage and is designed to attract more
HGVs into the area. The government now accepts that all new roads increase,
not decrease, traffic. The plan is backward-looking and many
alternatives to building this road remain, such as improving the traffic
flow at Scale Hall, improving public transport, the rail network and
Lancaster’s gyratory system
The Government now accepts that we cannot keep on building new roads to
relieve congestion. Alistair Darling (Secretary of State for Transport)
said recently “We cannot build our way out of our present congestion
problems.” (June 2005).
Schemes to transfer freight to rail should be investigated more thoroughly for
Heysham port, following the lead from other British ports. This road
scheme fails to support policy outlined in the Transport White Paper to
make best use of existing infrastructure, or to reduce the impact of
freight on congestion and the environment. The Business Case concedes
that there is no impact on freight interchange.
Projected flows suggest that the road would increase traffic by 13.9%, well above
the 2010 do minimum projection, and far exceeding natural growth of
traffic. It is in direct conflict with Government aims expressed in the
Transport White Paper to reduce traffic to 2001 levels by 2010. The
level of growth also hampers policies relating to air quality and noise.
Regional Planning Guidance suggests that where port-related road traffic
compromises local highway networks there should be a presumption in
favour of making best use of existing local infrastructure where
The proposed scheme does not consider any other links such as
the existing branch line of the railway infrastructure, or how to make
best use of existing road space.