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14th June 2011 - Don’t Stifle Debate
Lancashire County Council (LCC)’s attempt to stifle debate in the consultation on Heysham M6 Link Road has been criticised by local campaign group Transport Solutions (TSLM).
The Council is holding consultations on the controversial Road Plan, but has decreed that local people can only express their views on the recent changes, not the whole scheme. (See Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) Supporting information page 6)
TSLM has written to LCC (click to view) to point out that these restrictions make the consultations invalid.
“The application will be for the whole scheme, not just the changes”, says David Gate of TSLM. “The justification on traffic and job numbers is new. The new planning authority lays stress on early and full consultation with the local community. So that consultation should not be restricted – it should be on the whole scheme.”
After the changes to the scheme, required by the government to reduce costs, it will now be submitted to the new planning authority for large building projects, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). A submission is expected in September 2011, but IPC procedures require that there should be a full consultation on it with local people first.
“We ask people to attend the consultations and give their views”, says Mr Gate, “but not just on the changes – on the whole scheme. Other solutions, other routes and other engineering designs should be considered and consulted on.”
3rd May 2010 - Replies from election candidates:
TSLM wrote to all candidates in the Lancaster City Council elections on 5 May. (see below)
We have received several responses. We thank the candidates for their replies, and print them below. They are the views of the candidates, of course, and not TSLM's.
Sue Holden Bolton-le-Sands Green
James Groves Castle Labour
Peter Rivet Castle Labour
Chris Hart Harbour Green
Dave Horton Kellet Green
Emily Heath Scotforth East Green
Jean Taylor Scotforth East Labour
Alan Chard Scotforth West Independent
Geoff Marsland Torrisholme MBI
Roger Dennison Torrisholme MBI
[note that they are listed in alphabetical order of Ward]
14th April 2011 - Update on Heysham M6 Link:
LCC has been forced to make drastic changes to the Road scheme, although to date they have not provided any plans. They claim to have reduced the cost by £16 million (to £123 million), but doubled their own contribution, from £6 million to £12 million, in order to gain Government approval.
The supposedly cost-cutting changes, which we dispute, include:
· Raising Shefferlands Roundabout by 14 metres - this is claimed to save £7.3 million, because earth does not have to be removed from site. BUT in the original plan, no earth was to be removed from site. This is a phantom saving. The result is a higher Lune Bridge and a very steep road over, rather than under, Halton Road - with extra costs.
· Changing the Junction 34 design to save £1.8 million - but the previous design was amended, at increased cost, to meet HA guidelines: why is a new design that more or less reverts to the original now acceptable or safe?
· Eliminating the lighting on most of the Link Road to save money - but LCC previously claimed it was essential for safety: why is an unlit road acceptable now?
The cost to LCC (and to us, Lancashire Council taxpayers) will certainly be more than £12 million: we can see additional costs to LCC of up to £33 million, eating up all of LCC’s capital spending on transport for the next 4 years, and more – LCC are responsible for all cost overruns.
Because the changes are so drastic, consultation on the revised scheme will take place over the summer, at which you will again have your say. We shall keep you informed, and please keep watching the local press. It will then be considered by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).
Now, Lancaster City Council elections are taking place on 5 May 2011.
TSLM has sent a letter (below) to all candidates. We would urge you to contact your candidates now.
- let them know that this issue is a vote-changer
- ask them to oppose the Heysham M6 Link, and
- support instead the package of integrated transport measures that the district really needs.
All candidates’’ addresses are at
TO: All candidates in Lancaster City Council elections on 5 May 2011
FROM: Transport Solutions for Lancaster & Morecambe (TSLM)
SUBJECT: Heysham M6 Link Road
I am writing to you as you are standing in the Lancaster City Council elections on 5 May 2011.
We are a group of local residents who oppose the building of the Heysham M6 Link Northern Route, and favour instead a package of integrated transport measures to solve congestion, a major problem in the District, and so aid regeneration and tourism.
The Link Road does not tackle congestion. According to Council figures, on the day it opens, traffic will go down on some roads and up on others. Nor does it bring many jobs. County’’s expert admitted (2007) that the few new jobs were “not worth building a road for”. Instead, it brings noise, light and air pollution to parts of our area, and devastates our environment and Green belt.
Yet alternatives do exist, proposed for LCC by transport experts Faber Maunsell, and developed by North Lancs sustainable transport groups (see http://heyshamm6link.info/HM6L_Review_and_Proposal_Full_Sep_10.pdf). The package of transport measures would reduce congestion, and so bring jobs and help tourism. Key elements are: a high quality spinal bus route between Heysham and Lancaster University, rail system upgrades, park & ride, and revisions to Lancaster gyratory systems. What’’s more, the cost would be around £30 million, almost £100 million less than the expensive Link Road.
The Link Road is not a “done deal”. Following drastic changes demanded by the Government to reduce the cost, the revised scheme must now go to consultation in the summer, then to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) for planning approval. That consultation will involve Lancaster City Council. Furthermore, there are serious doubts about the latest scheme costings. The County’’s contribution has already doubled to £12 million, but we have identified factors which make the contribution more likely to be around £33 million. This would be bad for Lancaster and the rest of the County, as this is money that will have to be siphoned away from other projects (and we all know that local authorities are not exactly awash with money at the moment).
In 2007, Lancaster City Council withdrew its support from the scheme, and voted for a comprehensive package of measures to deal with the district’’s traffic problems. We would ask you to maintain that stance.
Lancaster & Morecambe people deserve a real solution to our transport problems, not the pollution and destruction of an HGV dual carriageway to the Port. We ask you not to support the Heysham M6 Link Road, but to support instead the package of integrated transport measures to tackle the district’’s major problem of traffic congestion.
David Gate, }
31st January 2011 - County Council cut corners in scramble for cut price Link road cash.
In a last ditch attempt to secure government funding, Lancashire County Council has filed new plans for the controversial Heysham M6 Link road. Big changes have been made, but no meaningful attempt has been made to consult with the local people who will be affected.
The new plans were submitted to the Department for Transport on the 4th January, in advance of a DfT decision set for 31st January. But the new plans were only published by LCC on the 31st January, leaving no time for consultation with the public and their advisers.
The plans need close scrutiny. Initially, they reveal major cost cutting changes, so LCC will have to make a new planning application.
A major error has already come to light. A claimed saving of up to £7.3 million, by not removing earth from the site, is illusory. LCC has always maintained before that no earth would be removed from the site. The cost was never there in the first place, and the saving is a phantom.
The changes will have a big impact on residents and the local environment. The proposed roundabout at Shefferlands near the M6 will be much more prominent: it is proposed to raise it by a massive 14 meters (that’s 45 feet) at this point. The Link would now go over, not under Halton Road, and the new Lune Bridge would be need to be raised. Yet the plans for these new steep gradients have not been revealed.
The cost burden for Lancashire's taxpayers doubles from £6.4 million to £12.3 million. Ominously, Lancashire taxpayers now carry all the risk of cost overruns.
"The process has been rushed and botched," says David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group TSLM. "The losers will be local residents, Lancashire's taxpayers and the people of Lancaster & Morecambe, with no solution to local congestion.”
The Best & Final Funding bid is available to view by clicking HERE
20th January 2011 - Question mark over Link road as Dublin ferries sail away for good.
A review of Irish Sea Roll-on Roll-off freight ferry services by Danish DFDS shipping line has resulted in it axing its Heysham-Dublin route. DFDS blames a sharp fall in revenue mainly on 'overcapacity between Britain and Ireland'. They state that despite an impressive effort by employees and 'a very comprehensive analysis of the market and evaluation of turnaround scenarios we have not succeeded in developing viable solutions for the routes'. The service ends at the end of January when three DFDS ships leave the Irish Sea.
"It is madness throwing scarce public money at the fortunes of Heysham Port when there is overcapacity on the Irish sea routes” said David Gate, chair of transport campaign group TSLM. “It shows how pie in the sky Lancashire County Council’s economic case for building the Heysham M6 Link road really is. LCC is reportedly slashing £180 million in services and jobs, and yet it can miraculously find millions to speculate on an HGV-generating road scheme.
"Interestingly, the port owners have not sought to develop their existing rail connection. DFDS have evaluated turnaround scenarios, presumably including what if the Link road were built, and they still can't see a viable solution. The £140 million Link road has expensive white elephant written all over it. Let’s hope the coalition government will focus on north Lancashire and sail away from funding the Link road."
A £30 million integrated package of transport measures, prepared by expert consultants Faber Maunsell, to address traffic congestion in Lancaster and Morecambe, remains gathering dust on council office desks.
27th October 2010: Buck passed to Council on Link road.
On the day when Lancashire County Council announced that it will have to cut £180 million in services over the next 3 years, the Government sent a qualified message to LCC on its £140 million Heysham M6 Link Road plans.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced that the plan is “subject to a best & final offer from local authorities”.
It appears the Government wants authorities to cut costs, but it is not clear who is going to pay.
“If they change the scheme by big cost cuts, it will no longer be the scheme that has planning permission” said David Gate, Chair of TSLM. “Complementary measures (better public transport, park & ride) are a condition of the scheme – it can’t go ahead without them – but the government won’t fund them.
“If LCC asks for local contributions, who will stump up the cash? Local businesses will want a return, and Lancashire's hard-pressed taxpayers would object to the Council borrowing for this speculative extravagance when they are obliged to cut essential jobs and services.”
A recent report described an alternative package of integrated transport measures that would tackle congestion and so bring regeneration to the area, AND save £100 million on the Link Road.
“That package should be the way forward” said Mr Gate, “not a divisive £140 million road scheme that won’t solve congestion or bring jobs.”
11th October 2010: New initiative to tackle congestion problems.
Organisations from North Lancashire have joined together to give their backing to a report and proposal for urgently needed transport improvements for the Lancaster and Morecambe district.(see the summary below)
The proposals are an alternative to the controversial Heysham M6 Link road plan which is at present on hold awaiting the outcome of the Government Spending Review in late October.
Building on transport plans first put forward in 2008 by specialist transport consultants Faber Maunsell, the aim is to introduce measures which would address the district’s traffic congestion problems, and so aid regeneration and tourism, and improve access to Heysham. There is a potential to save the public purse over £100 million by not building the Link road. The estimated costs of this transport improvements package is around £30 million.
The key elements of the proposals are: a high quality spinal bus route between Heysham and the University of Lancaster, rail system upgrades, park and ride, revisions to the Lancaster gyratory systems and cycle infrastructure improvements.
The report was prepared for transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM). The alternative proposal was prepared with contributions from local groups supporting sustainable transport, on their respective areas of expertise: Lancaster, Morecambe & District Rail User Group (LAMRUG), Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign), Transition City Lancaster (TCL) and Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
"We shall be submitting the report to the relevant authorities including the Department for Transport, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council," says David Gate chair of TSLM.
"We all need to be practical and realistic in these tough times, it seems pretty clear that the £139 million Link road will be deferred or even cancelled to help reduce the massive budget deficit. We believe that the Link is unaffordable, but there is a pressing need to urgently address the districts in town congestion problems.
"This report demonstrates that there are cheaper and more sustainable alternatives to the polluting and destructive Link road and we all hope that it will help the authorities to focus on tacking our major priority the local traffic congestion problems," said Mr Gate.
HEYSHAM M6 LINK ROAD: REVIEW AND PROPOSAL
A Report commissioned for Transport Solutions for Lancaster & Morecambe (TSLM) recommends that Lancaster & Morecambe District could implement a complete package of non-road building measures which would
· Seriously reduce local congestion, and so
· Aid regeneration and tourism, and
· Improve access to Heysham -
· AND SAVE £100 MILLION
The package is based on a report by transport consultants Faber Maunsell, commissioned by Lancashire County Council, and has been developed with the help of local groups who favour sustainable transport.
It has been costed at £30-40 million, saving £100 million on the controversial Heysham M6 Link Road.
At £140 million, that Link Road scheme may prove unaffordable, when the new Coalition government must reduce the budget deficit. As Lancashire’s top priority, it blocks the region’s other transport schemes. And £140 million isn’t the end of it: the scheme cannot go ahead without “complementary measures”, similar to those in this report, in the region of another £40 million.
Nor does it meet government priorities of sustainable economic growth and carbon reduction:
· It fails to tackle congestion
· It is ineffective in bringing jobs and helping tourism
· Its justification – reducing journey time to Heysham – is open to doubt
The package proposed by this report would have five key elements:
· High quality spinal bus route between Heysham and the University of Lancaster
· Rail system upgrades
· Cycle infrastructure
· Revisions to Lancaster gyratory systems
· Park and Ride
The alternative proposal was prepared with contributions from local groups supporting sustainable transport, on their respective areas of expertise. They are:
Lancaster, Morecambe & District Rail User Group (LAMRUG)
Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign)
Transition City Lancaster (TCL)
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
The full report & appendices 1-3 are available on the following links (pdf files)
HM6L Review and Proposal Sep 10
HM6L proposal appendix 1 FM measures summary
HM6L proposal appendix 2 Additional Comments
HM6L proposal appendix 3 Rail Improvements
20th September 2010: Carry on Council ignores Government spending warning on new road.
Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver let it slip that work is continuing on the controversial Heysham M6 Link project, even though the Government warned the Council on June 10 that any future spending on the project would be at the Council’s own risk, pending the Autumn Spending Review.
In an interview with the press last week Driver, while trying to defend the carbon emissions problem posed by the road, let it slip that "recent more detailed calculations show that the figures previously quoted are too high." He had used the published figures (23,514 extra tonnes of CO2 pa) in a letter of 29 July 2010.
"Cllr Driver’s gaffe clearly shows that public money continues to be spent on this road building project," says David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group TSLM. "Yet, at the same time, County is cutting services for the most vulnerable: services for children and young people, children’s homes, community services – it’s a long list. But despite these cuts of £46 million this year, it’s clear what this Council’s number one priority is: Cllr Driver will stop at nothing to get his hands on the £140 million to build the HGV generating road."
The Council’s own figures suggested that the road would pump an extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 into the local environment and that 173 acres of North Lancashire Green Belt would be destroyed. The Council Leader is trying to play down the environmental risks, but at the same time he is responsible by law for cutting carbon emissions.
Update on Heysham M6 Link Road: August 2010
We wait for the Government's Autumn Spending Review, expected to be announced on 20 October, to hear whether the Government will fund this destructive and expensive scheme.
In the meantime, please continue to write to the Government - they have asked for your money-saving suggestions - to point out the many failings of this road, and copy to your local MP.
Many of you wrote to the leader of Lancashire County Council Geoff Driver, asking him to halt work on the road. He did not reply to the valid points that you raised, but instead sent a standard letter offering his justification for the scheme. TSLM have replied to his points in this letter:
Dear County Councillor Driver,
You have recently responded to those who wrote to you asking the County Council to stop work on the Heysham M6 Link Road.
You did not respond to the various points raised, but presented your case for the scheme in your own way, making points which I have summarised below, with TSLM’s comments.
1. The MORI poll of 2001 found 79% in favour of a link road between Heysham and the M6.
2001 is a long time ago, and County haven’t risked a poll since. When Geraldine Smith MP held a poll in 2007, well over 90% opposed this scheme. In 2001 the routes where thin lines on a map; once the details of the Northern Route were revealed, with embankments & cuttings, a bridge 26 ft high at Broadoak and 49 ft high over the railway, people realised the horror of the proposal and opposed it.
52% supported…a Northern Route, whilst 48% supported the Western Route …once the key features of each route had been explained.
That gives it away - this wasn’t an impartial poll: the 1,000 people interviewed were told how good the scheme would be! And no-one explained to them “the key features” of non-road-building alternatives.
2. Some councillors were in favour of the Western Route, but their support has shifted to the Northern Route.
This is the argument that we need a bypass, and any bypass will do, even if it is a bad bypass, even if it is destructive, damaging to communities, won’t solve congestion and won’t bring jobs. And even if it costs £140 million which the government can’t afford. Not a good reason to build a road. Call it the “Northern or Nothing” nonsense.
3. The report produced by Faber Maunsell in July 2008 'Lancaster District Transport
Vision and Strategy Report' included the Heysham to M6 Link as a major building block
The Link is included in the report because that is the way that LCC wrote the brief. Yet there are statements in the report that alone the Link will not solve the transport problems of the district, and suggestions that a package of alternative transport solutions in the report would solve congestion, without the Link.
4. Although CO2 is a non-toxic naturally occurring gas it is considered as a global pollutant because it contributes to the "Greenhouse Effect". The CO2 emissions from England in 2007 were 419 million tonnes/year of which 113 million tonnes/year were from transport. The increase due to the Link Road is one five thousandth of England's transport emissions in 2007.
CO2 may be a "naturally occurring gas", but CO2 emissions from transport aren't naturally occurring: they're man-made, not part of the natural carbon cycle, and therefore stimulate global warming and initiate climate change.
You make the increased CO2 pollution caused by the Link Road appear insignificant. In fact, your own website (1) shows that the emissions from transport in the Lancaster district in 2007 were 346,000 tonnes/year. And, excluding motorways, it was 191,000 tonnes/year (2). So for local & regional roads in the Lancaster district, which are your responsibility, the increase due to the Link Road would be 12.3%. One eighth. Not so insignificant.
But LCC, and you as its leader, are specifically charged with reducing it. The Climate Change Act (2008) gives the Government a legally-binding commitment to reduce it by 34% by 2020, and by 80% by 2050. It is not acceptable to say “it’s only a little increase”. This increase will have to be reversed, and then policies put in place to achieve the reductions required by law. Not acceptable from anyone; from the leader of a County Council whose decisions on housing, planning, and local transport can have a significant influence over emissions, it borders on the criminal.
5. With air quality & road traffic noise, more residents benefit than are disadvantaged.
Near the existing road network, some residents will benefit a little from traffic reduction, for a time, until traffic builds up again to its present levels. On the other hand, near the new HGV route, where there are fields now, the deterioration in air quality and the increase in traffic noise will be massive and life-changing. HGVs thundering past bedroom windows at 26 feet high? There is no case, in law or in common decency, for debasing the living conditions in one area to achieve a slight improvement elsewhere.
6. The traffic forecasting model shows that there is a substantial reduction in total travel time
The traffic forecasting model shows that there is a small reduction in travel time for each trip, multiplied by a large number of trips, spread over 60 (sixty) years (as the guidance requires). A small reduction (a few minutes) won’t make much difference to each trip. Spreading the calculation over 60 years is nonsensical – just think how much transport has changed in the last 60 years. Indeed, the Conservative Party in opposition vowed to change this misleading aspect of the transport appraisal system.
7. The inspector said that this was the only alignment for the Link Road
The Inquiry into the Link Road in 2007 was strictly to judge whether the plans as presented by LCC were an appropriate use of the land in question. It did not consider whether the same aims could be achieved by a different routes, or by alternative measures. The inspector said as much: this Inquiry is to consider the application before it.
Like planning permission to build a house – if granted, it does not mean that that is the best place for a house, or that a house is what’s really needed.
These other matters would be considered at a second public inquiry, which has now been postponed.
8. The inspector said that the objectives of the Scheme cannot be met by alternative measures
But alternative measures were not presented to the inspector to consider; that was not the purpose of the planning inquiry. (see 7 above)
You fail to address the points put to you, that £140 million for 3 miles of HGV route, which doesn’t solve congestion and doesn’t bring jobs, cannot be Value for Money. You fail to accept that this scheme is contrary to the policy of the new Coalition government:
- we can’t build our way out of congestion;
- we must reduce emissions, not increase them,
- and by the way, we can’t afford it.
7th July 2010: It's a long way back for the Link road, but the axe has not yet fallen
The Government has told LCC to stop work on the Heysham M6 Link Road, and the inquiry has been postponed, until after the Autumn Spending Review.
The Emergency Budget on 22 June introduced big cuts, and the Chancellor has asked Government departments, including the Department for Transport, to come up with massive cuts immediately for the Spending Review.
They have asked for the public’s suggestions about what should be cut.
So we now have a great opportunity to write to the Government and tell them why they should save £140 million by scrapping the controversial Heysham M6 Link Road. You can be sure that behind the scenes both the County Council and its appointed contractors will be lobbying hard for the taxpayers’ cash to build their massive dual carriageway monster.
The new Government wants to know your views now. Please write to them urgently, as every letter and email will count to stop the monster road. So please tell them that ---
- The massive £140 million Link is not value for money in the changed financial and environmental circumstances; it is now simply an extravagance.
- The Heysham M6 Link is not designed to tackle local traffic congestion or improve road movement between Lancaster and Morecambe.
- It fails to bring jobs and economic regeneration. The small number of extra jobs forecast, LCC’s consultant said, are “not worth building a road for”.
- The Link would destroy 173 acres of green belt. It would generate extra traffic which would produce an extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 each year, but government is bound by law to reduce emissions.
- It is not supported by Lancaster City Council or Morecambe Town Council, and the County Council’s own 'exhibition exit poll' showed 76% of public against.
- Alternative transport plans, prepared by transport experts Faber Maunsell, are being held up by the Council. These integrated plans include improvements to bus and train services, park & ride, changes to the one way systems, and a bridge to the Luneside industrial area. They should have priority over the Link.
- The existence of these other Council-sponsored transport plans shows that the Link road does not solve our transport problems. This integrated transport package, not the Link road, is the answer to congestion, at under half the cost.
Please have your say on spending cuts. Write or email urgently to Transport Minister Norman Baker, and, if you can, copy to Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander and to our new MPs David Morris or Eric Ollerenshaw. Refer to Heysham M6 Link funding.
Give them your own opinion, and feel free to pick from the points above.
- Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham St., London, SW1 4DR.
- RT Hon Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ.
- David Morris MP (Morecambe & Lunesdale), House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA.
The Heysham M6 Link plan belongs to another era. It is out of line with government policy on transport, on the environment, and on what the country can afford. With cheaper alternatives available, and so many other more deserving schemes, it should be axed immediately. The Government wants to hear from you: please take this opportunity to have your say.
Together we can stop the monster road...once and for all!
16th June 2010: County Council Link Road Supremo resigns from Cabinet
Lancashire County Councillor Keith Young, the cabinet member for Highways and Transport, has resigned from the Cabinet just days after the Department for Transport told Lancashire County Council (LCC) to put a hold on plans to build the Heysham M6 Link road.
Cllr. Young told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph that "things were getting unsustainable. My wife and I decided it was time to ease off, and the only way I could do this was by giving up my cabinet job." The Councillor had been at the heart of a county-wide road gritting saga over the winter, which had been called 'a shambles from start to finish' by political opponents.
In May the Department for Transport (DfT) warned LCC that if they were to continue work on the Link road during the Government spending review, it would be at their own risk. LCC then defiantly issued a press release boasting that it was 'business as usual' for the Link road design team, and that public money was still being channelled into the project. This came at a time when many other council workers were worried about jobs and cuts to services. In that press release Cllr Young gave his support to the Link.
Last week it emerged that the DfT had again written to LCC warning them not to spend any more time and money on the Link until after the outcome of the Autumn Spending Review, and postponing the second public inquiry due in October.
"Cllr Young’s resignation is another major blow to the Link road scheme," said David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group TSLM. "Perhaps LCC will now concentrate on a cheaper, sustainable and more publicly acceptable alternative to the unaffordable and obsolete Link road plan. We hope the Council now brush the dust off the integrated transport plans for the district, drawn up by expert transport consultants."
11th June 2010: Time to move on from £140 million Link road plan.
The Department for Transport has written to Lancashire County Council (LCC) saying that it is minded to postpone the local inquiry on the Heysham M6 Link (HM6L), scheduled for October, until the funding position is clearer, which is likely to follow the outcome of the Government’s Autumn spending review. And LCC is warned against spending more time and money preparing the £140 million road plan.
This follows publication of revised guidance from Secretary of State Philip Hammond on handling of local authority promoted major transport schemes, including the plan to build the HM6L.
The Secretary of State makes it clear that the Government priority is the record budget deficit. Local Authorities are told that schemes given conditional approval by the previous government, including the HM6L, will be reviewed as part of the spending review. Until then the Government can give no assurances on funding support.
"The writing is on the wall for the £140 million Link. The idea belongs to another era, and Lancashire County Council will now have an uphill task trying to demonstrate that it represents value for money”, said David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group TSLM.
“£140 million for 3 miles of HGV dual carriageway that doesn’t solve congestion and doesn’t bring jobs can’t be value for money. This scheme is out of line with government policy on transport, on the environment, and on what the country can afford.
"This is a huge blow to the Link plan, from which it may well not recover. It makes complete sense not to waste any more resources or public money on this project."
Before announcing his decision to postpone, Lancashire County Council was asked by the Secretary of State whether it could provide alternative sources of funding which would allow the inquiry process to continue.
"We hope that Lancashire County Council will now develop plans for more affordable alternatives to tackle Lancaster and Morecambe transport problems. The Link divided the towns, it would not have brought them together. A great starting point would be the integrated transport proposals prepared for the Council by transport experts Faber Maunsell," said Mr.Gate. “The people of Lancaster & Morecambe would support them on that.”
17th May 2010: Axe hovers over Link road: DfT tells Council "if you continue work during funding review, it will be at your own risk."
The Department for Transport (DfT) has written to Lancashire County Council (LCC) warning them that funding for building new roads is under review. (See the letter by clicking here). The DfT is taking stock of the financial commitments on transport with the Treasury to allow new Ministers to consider priorities, and if LCC chooses to continue work on the Heysham M6 Link road scheme it will have to be at the County Council’s own risk. The controversial County Hall road building plan does not have government funding approval.
Yet LCC has obstinately issued a press release boasting that "it’s business as usual" for its Link road design team, and that public money is still being channelled into the project, even though many other Council staff are worried about funding cuts to other jobs and services. (See the press release by clicking here).
"The Heysham M6 Link road has been overtaken by financial and environmental realities," said David Gate, Chair of local campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM).
The massive £140 million dual carriageway HGV road would cut through residential districts, and would destroy 173 acres of Green Belt. It has been calculated that the new traffic that it would attract would pump out an additional 23,000 tons of CO2 into the North Lancashire environment each year.
"Building the Northern route road would contradict the electoral promise of a low carbon economy, and TSLM will be advocating integrated transport plans for the district which will be a better and more sustainable stimulus than the under-performing Link road plan. LCC should halt work immediately on this scheme, which is poor value for money, and the forthcoming Public Inquiry in October should be put on hold pending the government’s decision on funding."
13th April 2010: County Council comfort on Link bridge backfires.
Notwithstanding the enormous cost and intrusive work associated with the building of the controversial Heysham M6 road bridge at Halton, Lancashire County Council planners have failed to alleviate the fear of flooding for local residents. Following extensive computer modelling undertaken for the Council, the Council’s project manager could only manage to claim that the bridge would not make the existing flood problems any worse.
"This is no comfort to Halton residents, who are only too well aware of the power of the river in extreme conditions; everyone is concerned about debris causing blockage and flooding at this planned low level bridge," said Mike Jacob, a concerned Halton resident. "Climate change has sparked unprecedented flood events: what would happen if Cockermouth-type rainfall fell around Shap and Tebay, the Lune's catchment area?"
"Locals want an improved bridge redesign, but that would increase costs, making the £140 million pound Link road plans even more vulnerable to transport funding cuts,” said David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM). “This is a big issue: why else would Lancashire County Council produce a press release which actually says nothing new about the risks? This is a multi million pound scheme, and all they can say is that the existing low level bridge plan will not make existing risks worse. That does not look like value for money for the hard pressed taxpayer. Remember that local council taxpayers will have to pay half of any cost overspends, which are inevitable on a big road scheme like this."
TSLM believes that the Link road is an under-performing plan, which has been overtaken by financial and environmental events. TSLM would like to see it cancelled, and some transport budget money spent instead on integrated transport plans to tackle congestion between Lancaster and Morecambe.
8th March 2010: Transport campaigners’ solutions get thumbs up from Shadow Transport Minister
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, is no supporter of costly, ineffective and environmentally damaging new roads, like the proposed Heysham M6 Link, and he has written to local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) to tell them just that.
Mr. Baker states in a letter to TSLM that government research, unearthed by the Campaign for Better Transport, shows that "the benefits forecast for new roads are not realised in practice.... and that this has implications for all new road projects including the Heysham M6 Link road."
Mr. Barker goes on to say: “Since 1997 the government has opened over 1,000 miles of new road (including widening) but only 27 miles of railway line. The Lib Dems want to encourage a modal shift towards greener modes of travel and this includes from road to rail. We would therefore invest in improving and expanding the railway network, in particular in High Speed Rail and line and station re-openings over costly, ineffective and environmentally damaging new road projects."
David Gate, chair of the group, said: “TSLM is not party political, but we are encouraged by this response from a major political party. The government research revealed by the Campaign for Better Transport was undertaken for the Highways Agency, and it casts major doubt on the value for money of road building. The findings coincide with warnings from the Department for Transport that regional authorities should expect substantial cuts in their transport funding."
The reports found that the overall traffic levels rose significantly as a direct result of opening each new road. Economic forecasts did not reflect the actual impact on local business, and any benefits were generally lower than predicted. CO2 emissions were higher than predicted, as were noise levels. Air quality was worse than forecast. Two thirds of the roads studied simply moved the traffic congestion elsewhere.
"In these difficult times, how can any political party justify spending £140 million of taxpayers’ money, when Government research shows that roads like the Heysham M6 Link do not solve peoples transport problems," says Mr Gate. "TSLM would like to see less money spent more effectively on the Faber Maunsell integrated transport plan for the district instead."
5th February 2010: Please help TSLM to present its case at the 2010 Public Inquiry.
At the forthcoming Public Inquiry, probably in June 2010, TSLM intends to present a strong case demonstrating why the destructive, polluting and under-performing Heysham M6 Link road should not be built.
TSLM has now embarked on a 2010 fund-raising appeal, so that experts can be retained to help make the case against the road at the Public Inquiry.
We urge you to click on the button on the left, which will show you how to make an on line donation, or alternatively you can send a cheque to TSLM, PO Box 146, Morecambe, LA4 6WR.
Lancashire County Council has access to taxpayer funds to pay for its lawyers and experts, but we rely on you to help make our case.
Please help us, there is so much that still needs to be said and done. Together we can
Stop the Monster Road!
22nd January 2010: TSLM welcomes Link inquiry
Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) welcomes the announcement by the Government to hold a public inquiry into the Lancashire County Council (LCC) plan to build the highly controversial Heysham M6 Link HGV route across the North Lancashire Green Belt.
"Many difficult issues remain to be resolved before the Government considers funding this multi-million pound scheme," said David Gate, chair of TSLM, "and this inquiry will present an opportunity to present expert evidence to show why the damaging and destructive road should not be built."
The dual carriageway road, at present estimated to cost £140 million, would cut across residential districts and destroy 173 acres of Green Belt farm land. It has been calculated that the Link would generate an extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 per year from vehicle emissions. It represents an attempt by LCC to attract heavy goods vehicles to use Heysham as their ferry route to Ireland. The plan is opposed by the district’s MP Geraldine Smith, and neither Lancaster City Council nor Morecambe Town Council support the County Council scheme.
"The North Lancashire public simply want an end to their in town traffic congestion misery, and for the transport budget to be spent on improving movement between Lancaster and Morecambe," said Mr Gate. "Sadly, the inquiry will probably focus on the road plan itself, and not on this top priority local issue. While County Hall in Preston pursues its Link road, no plans are being advanced to end the local traffic logjam nightmare."
TSLM supports an integrated transport strategy, which is not based on the £140 million lorry Link. It believes that lower cost plans produced for the district by transport consultants Faber Maunsell for an integrated package of measures for Lancaster and Morecambe should be the way forward for transport in North Lancashire.
21st January 2010: Government reports threaten Link road funding.
Plans to build the controversial Heysham M6 Link Road face yet another major hurdle following the publication of Government reports. Research for the Highways Agency casts major doubt on the value for money of road building, and the findings coincide with warnings from the Department for Transport that regional authorities should expect substantial cuts in their transport funding.
Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) have studied the findings and we say that the reports are directly relevant to the Link and that the findings undermine the case for building the multi million pound road. We have written to the Government and other interested parties to tell them that the road is no longer a value for money scheme.
View he letter here
The reports, unearthed by the Campaign for Better Transport, found that overall traffic levels rose significantly as a direct result of opening each new road. Economic forecasts did not reflect the actual impact on local business, and any benefits were generally lower than predicted. CO2 emissions were higher than predicted, as were noise levels. Air quality was worse than forecast. Two thirds of the roads studied simply moved the traffic congestion elsewhere.
(See the CBT reports here)
"Lancashire County Council have a lot of explaining to do about their damaging and destructive Link road plans if they are to get the £140 million of public money needed for the Northern route," said David Gate, chair of TSLM. "Times have moved on, but it’s not just their dated idea of building an HGV route through our Green Belt, it’s the fact that they are not tackling the in-town congestion that makes the road plan such poor value for money."
Despite spending cutbacks across the board, the multi-million pound lorry generating Link remains the number one transport priority at County Hall in Preston. The Heysham M6 Link road would destroy 173 acres of the North Lancashire Green Belt, cut across residential districts, and generate an estimated extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 per year. Alternative, less expensive plans for an integrated transport strategy for Lancaster and Morecambe have been prepared by transport consultants, but they are not being progressed or funded.
"In these difficult times, how can the Government justify spending £140 million of taxpayers’ money, when the Government’s own research shows that road projects like the Link do not solve people’s transport problems. We would like to see less money more effectively spent on an integrated transport plan for the district instead, and we have written to the Government to tell them so,"
TSLM T-shirts and posters are now available
Available in Adult sizes: Small (36’’) to XL(44’’) - £5.50
and Children’s sizes: age 4-6, 7-8, & 9-11 - £4.50
(the children’s have Stop the M6 Link Road on both front & back)
Posters for display in your windows are free and available with a variety of slogans
For historic stories and headlines, please see the Archive page.
This site was first published on 30th March 2005