Arguments against the Heysham M6 Link Road
1. The road would not reduce congestion.
The Road fails to tackle local congestion, the most pressing local problem. On some roads, traffic would actually go up on the day the road opened. 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.
Recent figures show that traffic in Lancashire has not increased since 2004. New modeling shows that less traffic than previously thought (22%) would use the new road.
2. The road would not create opportunities to improve walking, cycling and public transport.
A new road would encourage people to use their cars more, not use other modes of transport.
It was widely recognised that the scheme itself would not relieve congestion, so a plan of complementary measures, based on the Faber Maunsell Report, was a condition of the planning permission granted for the old scheme in 2008. But this plan has never been published.
The sole P&R site proposed at Junction 34 of the M6 is just a car park. There is no appraisal of its justification or usage, and no coherent strategy for its use: no traffic study, dedicated lane for buses to enjoy uncongested access to the city, measures to discourage motorists from driving into the city centre, or provision for ongoing subsidy. Without such a strategy, experience from other towns indicates that it may prove unattractive, be little used, and may prove unviable.
3. The road would not regenerate the area.
There is no evidence that new roads create new jobs. The Economic Impact Report forecasts only 898 to 1,125 new jobs in the Regeneration Area, if all available development land is all taken up. But it then admits that up to 1,095 jobs could be lost due to the “2-way road effect”. So no net gain.
There is no evidence that a new road would benefit tourism. Visitors are drawn to an area because of the attractions there, not because they can save six minutes on the journey time.
The lack of any connection to Luneside means that this important development area would not benefit.
4. The road would not benefit 97.5% of traffic on the network.
Of the four objectives, faster journey times to the Port of Heysham is the only one which the proposal partially satisfies; but it benefits only 2.5% [still correct?] of traffic on the district’s roads.
Yet Heysham Port is in decline – by 22% between 2003 and 2009. This undermines the justification for the road.
5. Alternatives have not been properly examined
By submitting a new planning application, Lancashire County Council should show why this new scheme would achieve its objectives, while others would not. It should examine the alternatives.
· Alternative Solutions do exist
TSLM has developed a package of sustainable transport measures, along with other sustainable transport groups, based on a report commissioned by the County Council, which would reduce congestion and help regeneration. In 2007, Lancaster City Council voted against the HM6L and in favour of such a package.
· Alternative Alignments
The County Council has not properly considered, or recently consulted on, alternative alignments, such as the “Green Route” or the “Blue Route”. They have not followed DfT Guidance in working through in detail other options that would achieve the same objectives.
· Alternative Designs
Previous proposals for the northern route included some alternative designs, for example, the road to go under, rather than over, the railway line and the canal. If residents were asked, they might find these designs less obtrusive, and preferable to the present plan.
· The reality is that the County Council decided on this road scheme a long time ago, some say as early as 1948. It has pushed ahead with it consistently, and does not take seriously any alternative to it.
6. Traffic modeling is questionable.
Where there is serious congestion, and where most existing local traffic will not reassign to the new road, traffic levels on existing roads will soon rise back to what they were before.
7. Value for money is poor.
The County Council’s assessment relies too much on 60 year forecasts and unproven regeneration benefits. It ignores impacts which cannot be given a money value, for example the effect on the landscape and cost of increased pollution. The 2005 justification assumed traffic would increase indefinitely, but recent figures show that traffic numbers have remained static in Lancashire since 2004.
8. Scheme Changes
The recent scheme changes will make the road more obtrusive at Shefferlands, and the steep incline on the revised Lune Bridge will increase traffic noise for nearby residents.
The current design is for one SUDS pond west of Barley Cop Lane, to collect all run-off between Folly Canal Bridge and Torrisholme Road Bridge. This area is already liable to flooding. It is quite possible that the pond will gradually accumulate contaminated fluid and then, in the heavy rainfall so frequent in Lancashire, spill over into the groundwater, spoiling the surrounding sports pitches and environmental watercourses.
10. Climate Change
The scheme will cause a significant increase in carbon emissions, at a time when the Government is legally obliged to reduce them. Further, it will encourage car use, and push the trend upwards rather than downwards, precisely the wrong direction. Yet the committee on Climate Change recently concluded that an acceleration in the pace of emissions reduction will be needed if future carbon budgets are to be achieved.
The proposal would cause very significant damage to the landscape of the area to the north of Lancaster. The County Council acknowledges that there would be a large adverse impact on the landscape – the most severe assessment of impact possible. Recent changes, such as lifting of Shefferlands roundabout by 14 metres, and taking the carriageway over rather than under Halton Road, would only exacerbate this destructive impact.
The County Council claims that the route is of low ecological value, but fails to recognise the presence of veteran trees, protected hedgerows, species on the Lancashire and Provisional British and European Red Data Lists and Habitats of Principal Importance in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, as well as a number of other protected species including bats and salmon. The scheme would damage these species.
13. Green Belt
Everyone agrees that the scheme is an inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Our North Lancashire Green Belt was set up as recently as 1991 to provide a ”green lung” for residents of Lancaster & Morecambe to enjoy, and to stop the town sprawling into the nearby villages of Slyne and Halton. The road would fill the southern end of the Green Belt, making it a less enjoyable space – a severe encroachment into the countryside.
We fear that more, harmful development would follow. Worryingly, City Council officers now talk of a “Heysham M6 Link Road Development Corridor”.
14. The public has not been properly consulted.
The last consultation occurred in 2005, but presented only road building options without any real alternatives. This contributed to a widespread feeling that all options had not been considered, and a growing opposition to the scheme, and Lancaster City Council voted on 20 June 2007 to withdraw its support from the northern route for the Link Road.
There have since been substantial changes to the original design and costs. But the consultation in 2011 was restricted; the public were given the impression that this was a “done deal”, and their views were not genuinely being sought. There should be a full consultation on a whole range of alternatives, including non road-building ones.