Press Release  
   

Mottram Tintwistle Bypass Doubles in Cost -- Time for a Rethink

23rd March 2007

A government commissioned report [1] has revealed that the costs of the A628 Mottram to Tintwistle Bypass have more than doubled since the scheme was initially approved. The scheme had been approved at £90 million in April 2003, but the government has now revealed that four years later the latest cost estimate is £184 million.

Save Swallow's Wood [2], Friends of the Peak District [3], WAIT [4] and Council for National Parks [5], said the rising costs gave the opportunity for the government to call a halt to the imminent public inquiry and pause for a rethink before more public funds are committed. The Council for National Parks has written to the Secretary of State calling for the public inquiry to be postponed. The groups said that cheaper more sustainable solutions existed and should be investigated before the expense of a public inquiry.

The scheme crosses through the Peak District National Park and the Swallows Wood nature reserve, and would increase traffic by 40% in the National Park, increasing CO2 by 9%.

A major public inquiry into the £184 million bypass is due to begin in June this year. Due to the large scale opposition to the plans the inquiry is expected to be lengthy and expensive. Opposition to the scheme includes the Peak District National Park Authority, several local authorities and Natural England. It is estimated that the costs of the public inquiry could reach £2 million due to the complexity of the scheme and the high level of opposition.

As the scheme is not programmed to be funded or constructed until 2013 the environmental groups say that it would make sense for the government to take an opportunity for a rethink on the doubled costs, and to investigate fully lower cost alternatives.

Emma Lawrence of Save Swallows Wood said:

"£184 million is an extraordinary amount of tax payers money for a scheme intended to relieve congestion from three villages. Overall traffic levels in the valley would rise by 30%, bringing with it the associated health and safety risks for all residents. For this amount of money, many more sustainable initiatives could be implemented locally that would be beneficial to communities in South Yorkshire, Glossop, and Longdendale. It is time for the Government to put its money where its mouth is and look beyond the outdated road building programme by funding alternatives that do not damage the natural environment, encourage car use, and exacerbate climate change."

Steve Webber of WAIT said:

"The upward spiralling costs of the revised proposal for this flawed by-pass scheme maintain the ludicrous theory that building expensive un-wanted roads will solve our traffic problems. The costly addition of new route restraint measures on the A616 at Langsett & Midhopestones is a knee-jerk reaction by the Highways Agency to the extremely high level of local objections to the scheme and serve only to highlight the Highways Agency contempt for the wishes of local residents."

Anne Robinson Transport Campaigner with Friends of the Peak District said:

“These indefensible costs could be avoided. Recent revisions to the bypass plans aim to improve safety and reduce traffic flows. They provide for traffic lights and accident remedial measures including a 50mph and a 40mph speed limit along the trunk route between Tintwistle and the M1. If the Highways Agency were to implement the safety measures now they would immediately save lives, slow journey times and improve the environment of the villages on both sides of the Pennines. They would also be much cheaper than building a new road.”

Ruth Chambers, Acting Chief Executive of the Council for National Parks, said:

“When weighed alongside the major impact that this bypass will have on the Peak District National Park, the high financial cost of building the bypass should mean that it is scrapped. Instead, safety measures which are a fraction of the cost and which could start to make a significant difference should be implemented as a matter of urgency. On a similar case on the A47 in the Broads, which has equivalent status to a National Park, the Department for Transport has agreed to introduce a range of safety measures instead of damaging and more expensive road building”.

Contact: See below
Notes for Editors:

[1] Source: Review of Highways Agency’s Major Roads Programme, Mike Nichols for Department for Transport, 14 March 2007
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/nicholsreport/nicholsreport

[2] Save Swallows Wood is a local group based in Longdendale who object to the bypass proposals and want to see alternative solutions given priority over road building. See http://www.saveswallowswood.org.uk/. Contact Emma Lawrence on 0845 226 3392, info@saveswallowswood.org.uk

[3] Friends of the Peak District (FoPD) campaigns to for a living, working Peak District that changes with the times but remains beautiful forever. Managed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Peak District and South Yorkshire Branch, further information can be found at www.friendsofthepeak.org.uk. For further press information, contact Steph Woodhouse, Communications Officer on tel: 0114 266 5822 or steph@friendsofthepeak.org.uk

[4] WAIT is a local group based on South Yorkshire. WAIT strongly object to the impact of the bypass proposals transferring the congestion problems in Mottram-Tintwistle over the Pennines to local communities in Langsett, Penistone, and Barnsley.
See http://www.wait-campaign.co.uk/

[5] The Council for National Parks is the national charity that works to protect and enhance the National Parks of England and Wales, and areas that merit National Park status, and promote understanding and quiet enjoyment of them for the benefit of all. The Council for National Parks is registered charity number 295336 and company limited by guarantee number 2045556, registered in England and Wales at 6/7 Barnard Mews, London SW11 1QU. Contact: Ruth Chambers on 07769 676 397

[6] In July 2006 the Transport Select Committee accused the Highways Agency of "losing budgetary control" of its programme. Ninth Report of the 2005-6 Session, Transport Select Committee, 27 July 2006, paragraph 104
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmtran/907/90702.htm