Shrewsbury relief road 'will be total disaster and destroy wildlife' says campaigner

The Shrewsbury North West Relief Road will be a "total disaster" and destroy wildlife, according to a transport campaigner.

How the newly included viaduct could look on the North West Relief Road
How the newly included viaduct could look on the North West Relief Road

A planning application has now been submitted for the £87 million road, which would effectively complete the ring road around Shrewsbury connecting the A5 at Welshpool Road roundabout to the west of Shrewsbury to the Ellesmere Road roundabout to the town’s north.

In response, the Shrewsbury Green Party is holding a virtual public meeting called "Why the North West Road will ruin Shropshire" on Wednesday, February 24.

It is being hosted by veteran sustainable transport campaigner and party member Emma Bullard.

She will explain how and why the road was conceived and why the group believes it is likely to prove ruinous for Shropshire both financially and environmentally.

Ms Bullard said: “This road is destined to be a total disaster for Shropshire. It will not solve Shrewsbury’s congestion problems and will actually lead to more traffic. Building it will generate tens of thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions and destroy wildlife habitats, as well as seriously threatening Shrewsbury’s drinking water. This goes completely against the climate emergency that Shropshire declared.

“Most of all, though, the road will ruin Shropshire financially. Shropshire Council is in dire financial difficulties due to the pandemic and buying overpriced shopping centres. But our council leaders have committed us to paying £28.5 million for the road as well as all of any overspend.”

The talk will discuss why the group believes the North West Relief Road will fail to address Shrewsbury’s traffic problems, as well as looking at alternatives.

Ms Bullard added: “The road isn’t just an issue for Shrewsbury. Building it will affect the whole of Shropshire, drawing millions of pounds away from local investment in public services in towns from Ludlow to Oswestry. It is vitally important that everyone in Shropshire who is concerned about it objects against the planning proposal.”

When the application was submitted, Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting said: “To me Shrewsbury town centre is a wonderful environment that is really attractive to visitors and tourists.

"People like to spend time there but Smithfield road is a complete nightmare at the moment and is a barrier that stops people getting into town.

"This will take 30 per cent of the traffic off Smithfield Road which will change the whole environment.

“If we are going to try and do things with pedestrianisation and cycling then we need fewer cars.”

The planning application will be subject to the standard planning process, although there is potential for it to be the subject of a public inquiry.

The Green Party meeting is free with voluntary donations accepted for the campaign against the road.

Chamber 'broadly supports' plans

Meanwhile Shropshire Chamber of Commerce said it was offering its broad support for the proposed North West Relief Road, saying it could pave the way to job-creating inward investment.

The road, which will include a viaduct over the river Severn, has been in the discussion stage for nearly 30 years, but a planning application has now been formally lodged.

Richard Sheehan, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “We are broadly supportive of this important infrastructure investment.

“It will create jobs – both in the short term during the construction work, and longer term through the inward investment opportunities it is bound to create.

“It is important, though, that the use of local suppliers is made a priority, and that as sensitive an approach as possible is taken concerning the environmental impact of the route.”

Announcing the application for the road Shropshire Council's leader Peter Nutting said it would offer "huge opportunities" for the area.

He said: "The project I think started over 30 years ago with the old Shropshire County Council. It has been a long term ambition to solve traffic problems around Shrewsbury.

"I think it will help greatly to reduce the through traffic through town and will reduce the congestion on Smithfield Road.

"It will also offer huge improvements to many villages to the north and west of Shrewsbury, I think there are huge opportunities."

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