Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Alternative Proposals on Transport and Save Swallows Wood

  Alternative Proposals on Transport are a locally based group set up six years ago in response to local feeling against the proposed Mottram/Tintwistle Bypass. Since then we have campaigned against the Bypass as a damaging scheme which does not solve local problems and will greatly increase air pollution locally and regionally. For the last three years we have worked in tandem with another local group Save Swallows Wood. We have a membership of several hundred.


  The A57/A628 roads run through the Longdendale Valley alongside the villages of Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle. The A628 is the eastern continuation of the A57 trunk road and runs through the Peak District National Park to Penistone and Barnsley. This road is narrow, twisting and one of the most dangerous roads in the country. It would be very difficult to upgrade it as it perches part-way up a hillside and the area is prone to landslides. (We have had two in the last five years.)

  About thirty years ago a private consortium motorway through Longdendale and the Peak Park was put forward. Since that time various proposals have been on the table for a motorway to continue the M67 which finishes at Hattersley west of the valley.

  Also since that time the M62 motorway has been built which was predicted to remove heavy traffic from the unsuitable A628 but this did not occur, we are in fact a rat-run for HGVs.

  On 31 January Draft Orders were published for a scheme to build a "bypass" from the M67 extending 1.4 km into the Peak District National Park. Highly restricted public consultation began in 1992 with the "choice" of two almost equally bad routes being offered. Both were wholly within the valley which has an inversion layer over it and is already an ozone blackspot. It was put forward as relief for those living alongside the present A57 and A628. We expect that we will be allowed a Public Enquiry but should this "bypass" be built it will devastate several working farms along the north side of the valley together with a high quality local nature reserve and SSSI sites. It will also completely alter the water table of an already unstable hillside with large quantities of artesian water present and the associated spur road is planned to bisect our only remaining flood plain.


  According to Highways Agency figures the proposed Mottram/ Tintwistle Bypass would increase CO2 emissions by 7% from 2004-10. Present cost £110 million. There are viable alternatives which would not result in additional CO2 growth. This proposed bypass represents the gap between Government intent to reduce greenhouse gases and the policy on the ground which fosters increased dependence on road transport with its attendant pollution.


  The DoT is supposed to have a strategy underpinned by a coherent range of activities. From the evidence of the Bypass Environmental Study Document this is not so. The proposed bypass does nothing to reduce carbon levels, rather it increases them.

  The Highways Agency itself states that the scheme, if built, would increase traffic and increase all pollutants both local and national. (see Annex—extracts from Highways Agency document- Air Pollutants and their effects)

  The UK has both short and long-term targets for CO2 reduction. Any scheme which is forecast to increase CO2 for the short-term (2010) will of necessity contribute to difficulty in meeting the longer term targets. They forecast a 7% increase in CO2 if the bypass is built. In this area we also have a marked ozone problem which the bypass will do nothing to relieve.


  The main justifications put forward are congestion, economic development and improving environment for houses alongside A57 and A628 roads.

    —    High concentrations of NO2 on Mottram Moor (A57) and Woodhead Road (A628) are attributed to slow-moving HGVs.


  The Mottram/Tintwistle bypass has several alternatives which could contribute to solving the problems of economic development needs, congestion and improving air quality without spending the proposed 110 million and rising cost of this bypass.

  We maintain that the Highways Agency has never seriously considered alternatives to a bypass as their first commitment is to get roads built. In the last ten years both rail and road management proposals have been put forward to LAs and HA but have been rejected in favour of road building. In that time local public transport has been seriously downgraded and local building, in line with County plans, considerably increased.


  The third Woodhead Tunnel was constructed in the 1950s to then Continental standards, electrified in the 1970s and closed in 1982. It took enormous amounts of freight and ferried passengers between Manchester and Sheffield. It could still do so if the political will existed to reopen it.

    —    Arriva proposed to reopen Woodhead and offer passenger rail service between Manchester and Sheffield.

    —    Central Rail proposed to reopen the Woodhead Tunnel as part of a Manchester-Lille long-distance service. They offered a high-speed north-south network enabling transpennine rail-freight (piggy-back lorries on flatbeds) service plus a passenger capability.

    —    Translink (local consortium) proposed to reopen Woodhead tunnel as a rail-freight link with rolling stock carriage from M1 to M60.

  Surveys of local residents and a wider ranging survey conducted by MVA Associates on behalf of South Pennines Integrated Transport all showed reopening Woodhead rail line as the most favoured option.


    —    CPRE commissioned an independent study into feasibility of restricting some roads to allow weight restrictions on A628 thus removing HGVs back on to motorway network. (Highways Agency only did study where lorries had freedom to access other minor roads into Peak Park not study which expressly directed them back to motorway network.)

    —    Road user charges were put forward by Derbyshire CC.

  Despite all these alternatives which focussed on the problems generated by the high volume of HGV movements and the fact that high HGV component of through traffic was put forward as justification for a bypass, none of alternatives has been thoroughly investigated.

  One of the reasons for road transport of freight is it is relatively cheap in monetary terms. One of the results of increasing road congestion should be to make DoT and Highways Agency reassess transport provision

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