Campaign Group challenges Link Road decision
On Monday 29 April, local campaign group Transport Solutions (TSLM) (1) lodged a legal challenge to the decision to approve the Heysham M6 Link Road. The challenge is based on 5 grounds, where legal advice is that the decision was wrong in law. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced on 19th March that he had granted approval for the Heysham M6 Link Road. His decision was based on the report from the Planning Inspectorate’s Peter Robottom, following the Examination in Lancaster Town Hall in the summer of last year.
“The decision was a great disappointment to opponents of this controversial project,” said David Gate, Chair of TSLM. “It is the wrong solution to the district’s transport problems. But we have sought legal advice, and that advice is that the decision is wrong in law, too. The consensus opinion is that there are 5 very substantial grounds on which the decision should be challenged, ranging from incorrect treatment of European nature conservation designations to the fact that the scheme is not and never was a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. These areas of concern call into question the legality of the decision made by the Transport Secretary.” (3) TSLM has already had many pledges of financial support for such a Review, and that support makes the challenge a viable one. “There is still so much opposition to this damaging scheme.” said Mr Gate, “We owe it to the many people who have objected strongly to follow the legal advice we are receiving.” TSLM is not undertaking the legal action lightly and is applying for an order (2) to cap the amount of money it would have to pay if the case were lost. David Gate concluded: “Judging by the reaction to the decision to go-ahead, there are thousands of people who find that decision perverse and ill-founded on transport, environmental and economic grounds. The decision should be tested, and our challenge will test it.”
TV Star backs M6 Link Otters (NOVEMBER)
Lancashire County Council ignores wildlife concerns as it plans to plough the Link Road through an “invisible” otter colony.
BBC’s Autumnwatch presenter, Chris Packham, salutes the local residents’ fight to save “these wonderful animals”.
Extensive CCTV footage of families of otters in the River Lune at Halton shows that numbers of these rare creatures are increasing dramatically. However, the County Council is ignoring concerns for their well-being, and is pressing ahead with a controversial road that would destroy their habitat.
Local residents have taken images of up to 15 individual otters, with family groups including 3 females and 7 cubs, over a long period of time. One fascinating sequence shows a family devouring a 30 lb salmon which they have caught.
Torrisholme resident and wildlife photographer Stan Parrott has shot some amazing photos of otters at Halton, which can be seen on his website http://www.polypics.co.uk/
Chris Packham, presenter of BBC’s Autumnwatch, says: “This sounds like a very good example of concerned local conservationists essentially empowering themselves to protect these wonderful animals. I salute them and wish them the very best of success.” He adds: “It is critical that every such case is democratically but ferociously fought to the benefit of our battered and beleaguered wildlife.”
Otter experts are excited, and are preparing a new book that will feature the rich otter life at Halton. Several otter experts say that this population at Halton is something they have not witnessed before. It is of County significance, and probably of national importance too.
It is generally acknowledged that otter numbers are increasing because the water quality in the River Lune has improved lately. This is a glowing commendation of Lancashire County Council (LCC)’s Biodiversity Action Plan, which aims to improve water quality to attract otters.
Yet, strangely, the Council is denying that otters live here. At the recent examination in to the Heysham M6 Link Road, a County Council representative who went to look for otters couldn’t find any, but heard a “plop” in the river and guessed it was a rat.
The proposed £123 million road would damage the otters’ habitat, and result in a decline in numbers, but unbelievably the Council has failed to do the surveys which they are legally obliged to carry out, as otters are a species protected by British and European law.
Local resident, John Wilding, says: “It is extraordinary that Lancashire County Council is denying what we are seeing with our own eyes. We are dealing with the so-called “Environment Department”. It should be renamed the Environment Destruction Department”
Another local resident, Mike Jacob, adds: “This is hugely important new evidence that the Planning Examiner will have to take on board. Even County Councils cannot ride rough-shod over national and European legislation.”
Residents passionate to save the otters have set up a Facebook page
Link Road Update October 19th 2012
The Examination into the destructive Heysham M6 Link revised plans closed on 20 September 2012. The Examiner, Mr Peter Robottom, now has 3 months to prepare his report to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin.
The new Transport Secretary then has 3 months to make a decision. Appointed as recently as 4 September this year, he has already presided over the shambles of the West Coast Main Line franchise. Let’s hope that his experience of the faulty finances of that process will alert him to LCC’s flawed financial justification of this uneconomic scheme.
So expect an announcement in March 2013.
TSLM and our allies presented a strong case against the scheme, and we hope the Examiner will stress in his report:
· “The Link Road is not intended to solve Lancaster’s problems” as the manager for the Link Road, Steven McCreesh, admitted.
· The traffic figures LCC used in 2007, on which the scheme was given the go ahead, were wrong by 20 to 30%. The figures used now, from 2008, are certainly wrong too.
· Traffic is down locally by 10%, a trend which has been documented nationally and internationally. The era of growing car use has passed.
· The forecast time savings on journeys on the new road have gone down to 5 minutes, at peak times only, hardly noticeable for the long-distance drivers who will be using it.
· The Council haven’t investigated the alternatives, a much cheaper package of transport measures that would really reduce congestion.
· Otters, a European Protected Species that it is an offence to disturb, exist on the route, but LCC’s surveys of them have been grossly inadequate.
How can a £123 million scheme be justified on such flimsy grounds?
Many people have helped us during this long process, and we at TSLM would like to thank:
· Our supporters for continuing the fight, attending the so-called “consultations”, registering their objections with the IPC (now NID), and attending and speaking at the Open Floor Hearings.
· Our allies CPRE, CfBT, FoE, NW TAR for researching and presenting evidence
· Our experts, Alan James & John Whitelegg, for their telling evidence and arguments.
· Our sponsor, Lush Cosmetics
21 May 2012
HEYSHAM – M6 LINK ROAD TO GO UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
As the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) begins its examination of the case for and against the proposed Heysham to the M6 Link Road , the opposition has assembled a strong and what it hopes will be a persuasive case against the road.
Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) has been the principal objector to the road for the past seven years, and has now completed the final touches to the arguments to be placed before the Examiner in the case. Written representations were submitted to the IPC before the 8th May deadline.
TSLM has been joined by respected national organisations Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), and regional transport specialists North West Transport Roundtable (NW TAR), who agree that this road scheme is the wrong way forward, and against national policy.
TSLM and its allies have taken a wide overview of the proposals put forward by the road’s promoter, Lancashire County Council, but are placing particular emphasis on a number of specific strands of its argument against the road. Members of TSLM, its allied organisations and individual experts, have placed some of these strands under the microscope and have put forward what they consider to be a highly compelling case against the road on a number of important grounds including
· failure to reduce congestion and traffic levels in Lancaster
· failure to bring the hoped-for jobs
· minimal journey time savings
· damage to the environment and wildlife,
· damaging impact on local people
· increase in harmful pollution
“£41 million per mile for a road that doesn’t solve congestion or bring jobs is not Value for Money,” says David Gate, Chair of TSLM. “This road should be rejected: there are far better alternatives that are cheaper and would really work.”
The examination by the IPC will continue over the summer and end in October.
TSLM (i) Heysham Port
(ii) Economic impacts
(iii) Flood risk
(iv) Environmental Impact
CPRE: Andy Yuille (i) Landscape & Green Belt
(ii) Complementary measures
NW TAR & CBT: (i) Transport Appraisal
(ii) Traffic growth, forecasts & national policy
Alan James: Inadequate Assessment of Alternatives
John Whitelegg (i) Traffic Modelling & Forecasting
(ii) Climate Change
Tim Hamilton-Cox: Peak Oil
Jo Guiver: Sustainability
Halton Residents’ Group
Representations can be viewed at
TSLM received a boost when national campaign groups joined it to present a joint case against the revised Heysham M6 Link Road at the coming examination. Respected national groups Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) joined TSLM for the first IPC meeting on 3 April. "We have long argued that this destructive scheme doesn't solve congestion or bring jobs" said David Gate, Chair of TSLM, "but there are far cheaper
alternatives that do. Now, respected national groups CPRE & CBT will argue that this scheme is against national policy too." Written representations must be submitted by 8 May.
1. Lancashire leads the way
The Heysham M6 Link Road is the costliest of all Britain 's local authority road schemes, it was revealed this week, in figures released by the Department for Transport. At £41 million per mile, it beats its nearest rival hands down. (That's £25,677 per metre, or £648 per inch, if you prefer). Second-placed Kingskerswell in Devon can only manage £19,582 per metre.
Yet plans are full steam ahead to fund this top-priced scheme. Yes, this is in the same universe as the one where councils such as Lancashire are cutting services, everything from youth services to residential care homes and many jobs, cuts that damage people’s lives.
What’s more, Lancashire County Council has earned the promise of some government funding by increasing its own contribution to £12.3 million, and accepting all cost overruns. But we believe that the real cost of the HM6L we be at least £17 million more than currently admitted, all of which will end up being paid by the Council.
For cutting essential services and for spending on the country’s most costly road scheme, Lancashire leads the way.
Read the full story at <link>
Dates slip yet again
LCC’s latest “Update” (September 2011) shows that dates have slipped yet again – the application to IPC will be in “late autumn”, not September: it looks like October – November. That’s after the start date slipped again – last February it was “October 2012, now it’s “summer 2013”.
From the Council reports, you would think that everyone who attended the “consultation” was in favour of the scheme, apart from a few trees here or there, and they’re working diligently to give us what we want.
But everyone we have met report that the atmosphere was hostile, and the vast majority of people who attended were dead against the scheme. As Tom Askew has pointed out (see “some recent letters”), LCC’s answers to written letters show a pompous “we know best” attitude.
The Council is keen to point out that most people “understand the scheme. We agree – they understand how harmful and useless it is.
And they trash the Western Route – twice the length, twice the cost, attracts less traffic, poor value for money. Hold on a minute – it was the Council’s preferred route, through thick and thin, right up to 2004. TSLM doesn’t agree with the western route, but certainly all alternatives should be investigated.