Shropshire Star

MP's relief road frustrations should be aimed at council, not Environment Agency, insist campaigners

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski should direct his North West Relief Road frustrations to Shropshire Council, not the Environment Agency, campaigners say.

Daniel Kawczynski MP

Campaigners against the controversial road project at Better Shrewsbury Transport have written their own letter to Environment Secretary Therese Coffey after the MP asked for the project to be sped up.

Ms Coffey has agreed to investigate delays around the North West Relief Road after Mr Kawczynski recently wrote to her, bemoaning the "excessive and continuous demands" of the Environment Agency. Earlier this year, plans for the road were reopened to public comments after a raft of fresh documents were uploaded by Shropshire Council, aiming to address environmental concerns.

But now the campaigners have followed in Mr Kawczynski's footsteps by writing to Ms Coffey.

Mike Streetly, of Better Shrewsbury Transport, says in the letter: "Shropshire Council submitted the planning application in March 2021 and did not manage to submit the full site investigation report until February 2023. Reference by the MP to delay over ‘four years’ is therefore potentially misleading.

"The MP has criticised the EA for ‘delays’ but has apparently not mentioned the views expressed by Severn Trent Water which is very concerned to ensure the safety of its critical drinking water assets. The proposed project would involve construction of a 60mph road and a roundabout within the inner Source Protection Zone of Severn Trent Water’s Shelton Borehole Public Water Supply (PWS) together with a major viaduct across the River Severn immediately downstream of Severn Trent Water’s Shelton PWS river intake.

"The EA has been very consistent in its advice to Shropshire Council over the last 18 years, pointing out that it has a duty to protect Shrewsbury’s drinking water supply and the safest way to do this is to encourage the council to select a different route for the proposed road.

"As the council has chosen not to do this, it is the council’s responsibility to demonstrate to the satisfaction of both the EA and Severn Trent Water that its proposals do not put the town’s water supply at risk.

"The council was unable to complete the site investigations that it had planned to support the planning application for the NWRR in a timely manner due to a combination of Covid restrictions and local flooding.

"When the council did finally submit the final parts of these investigations in February 2023 these manifestly failed to allay the concerns of the EA and Severn Trent Water who are still seeking reassurances that the road can be built and operated over coming decades in a way that doesn’t jeopardise the town’s water supply.

"We believe that the MP's complaints regarding the delays to the project should be directed at Shropshire Council rather than the EA."