'Irresponsible': Friends of the Earth attack plans for Shrewsbury North West Relief Road

The Shrewsbury North West Relief Road will damage the unspoilt Shropshire countryside, Friends of the Earth said today.

An artist's impression of the relief road from a fly-through video
An artist's impression of the relief road from a fly-through video

The Shrewsbury branch of the environmental pressure group has branded Shropshire Council as 'irresponsible' for pursuing the town's relief road.

A statement released by Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth said that news that the council had secured £54 million for the construction of the NWRR should be greeted with sadness and said the authority had been responsible for 'fake news'.

It said: "Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth are as surprised as everyone else that the government have decided to allocate £54m towards the estimated £71m cost of this road.

"Cost is a serious worry. The council approved a contribution of £17m when the business case was submitted, but from experience elsewhere, tenders are very likely to be higher than the estimate and the risk of cost increases is very real.

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"At a time when the council is scratching the bottom of the barrel to find even small cost savings and vital services are being cut to the bone, it is grossly irresponsible to add the cost burden of this project to the expenditure budget.

"The 'fake news' again trotted out in recent days includes the assertion that it will solve town centre traffic issues and it will stop ‘rat running’ through the villages to the north west. A statement by the council leader that environmental issues had been dealt with is outrageous. How can a road through unspoilt attractive countryside not cause damage?"

The group also claims that the NWRR will be at odds with the recently developed Big Town Plan which gives a vision for the future of the town and which is a collaboration between Shrewsbury BID, Shrewsbury Town Council and Shropshire Council.

Pledge

Frank Oldaker who jointly co-ordinates the group's activities added: "“The consultants were very impressed with the unique number and location of green spaces in the town and the need to protect them. They commented in particular on the ‘green wedge’ of the river valley coming almost to the town centre at Frankwell. This would be completely spoiled if the road is built across it,  so it looks like Shropshire Council’s endorsement of the Big Town Plan is being torn up already.

“People who oppose the road have been asking what Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth is going to do now and we do pledge to remain active on the issue.

"Our hope is that in spite of having received this £54m, the Council will decide not to proceed when they review all the implications. A serious look at the principles embodied in the Big Town Plan and studying the answers  which other places have adopted could lead to a 21st century solution for Shrewsbury.

"Also imposing more hardship on people because of the financial implications is surely unacceptable. Stopping now would be so much better than continuing with a road that was conceived 40 years ago and is now recognised as being the result of old ideas and a lack of knowledge that we now have”."

The NWRR is seen as the 'missing link' in the road system encircling Shrewsbury. It will link up with the proposed Oxon Link Road at Shelton Water Tower and with the Battlefield roundabout close to the Audi garage. Subject to planning consent, it is envisaged that the single carriageway road will be completed by 2022.

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