£71m being ‘wasted' on new Shrewsbury relief road
A new £71 million relief road is a “waste of public money” and “environmentally damaging”, it has been claimed.
Shropshire Council confirmed it had received £54 million government funding towards its North West Relief Road scheme in Shrewsbury.
It said it would ease congestion, improve air quality and bring businesses to the county.
But Shropshire Green Party said it will have a detrimental impact and claimed it won’t solve traffic problems.
It follows a report by Highways England last week which showed its £317m pinch-point programme has increased rather than reduced delays at non-peak times. This included the Dobbies roundabout in Shrewsbury.
Councillor Julian Dean, member for Porthill, said: “This road was first proposed decades ago.
“It has never previously secured funding despite several attempts because the case for it is so flawed.
“Scarce officer resources and local authority funds should instead be focused on transport projects that benefit everyone in Shropshire and that conserve the local environment.
“It is clear that the present Local Plan Review is being guided partly by Shropshire Council’s desire to push the road.
“What else can explain the proposal to build 200 houses in a very environmentally sensitive area at the top of the Mount in Shrewsbury? It seems that we are proposing to build the wrong sort of houses in the wrong place, for the sake of a road that will be permanently damaging, and that will not tackle the real problems of mobility and access to services around Shropshire”.
He added: “Shropshire Council unanimously passed a motion in December agreeing on the seriousness of the global climate crisis and committing itself to take action locally.
“The NWRR is an outdated, expensive and damaging project that goes against the council’s own environmental commitments.”
“It will plough through environmentally sensitive land and adversely impact habitats and species all along the route.
“It will create a huge carbon footprint through its construction and materials and promote car dependency. It will further damage Shropshire Council’s ability to fund necessary services for residents.”
South Shropshire Green Party co-ordinator Hilary Wendt added: ”Shropshire Council’s failure to grasp the 21st century challenges we face is signified by their proposed cuts to our bus services.
“They justify this by citing the council’s serious budgetary problems. But fiscal rectitude does not appear to apply to road building.
“If the North West Relief Road goes ahead Shropshire will be liable for at least £17 million of the cost, plus another £8 million already committed for the Oxon Relief Road, plus 100 per cent of any overspend that arises.
“Instead, Shropshire Council needs to prioritise public transport development to give the greatest number of people a viable option of leaving their car at home and using forms of transport that don’t further damage the environment, cause air pollution and congestion.
“Around 3,000 deaths per year in the West Midlands are attributable to air pollution. More roads inevitably mean more traffic”.
Shropshire Council said the road will benefit the whole county. Councillor Steve Davenport, portfolio holder for transport, said: “The North West Relief Road will benefit not just Shrewsbury but the whole of Shropshire.” Work on the scheme is likely to start in 2022.