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Justification for building relief road is deeply flawed

Readers' letters | Published:

Shropshire Council recently declared a Climate Emergency because our changing climate threatens our very existence.

How the route of the North West Relief Road will take shape

But Shropshire Council is still forging ahead with the North West “Relief” Road, which will increase carbon emissions and destroy irreplaceable habitats including oak trees that have graced our landscape for hundreds of years.

I put the word “relief” in inverted commas because evidence shows that new roads, like the North West Relief Road, do not relieve congestion but do the opposite, increasing traffic and emissions in areas that are supposed to benefit from congestion relief.

In 1994, the UK Government (the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment) produced a report on what happens to traffic levels after new roads are built.

The report concluded that new roads generate new traffic, even more than those wanting to build the new roads had predicted. Furthermore, the report concluded that new roads do not reduce congestion.

Many new roads have proved this point. The infamous A34 Newbury Bypass, which increased traffic in the area by almost 50 per cent, and locally, traffic between Wellington and Shrewsbury jumped by 20 per cent (compared to the average three per cent) when the Shrewsbury Bypass was built. There are no special conditions that would suggest that the North West Relief Road would be any different.

The justification for the North West Relief Road is deeply, deeply flawed.

Shropshire Council’s consultants haven’t even identified how much of the traffic on Smithfield Road, for example, will actually use the North West Relief Road. The report has lumped together genuine through-traffic with short, cross-town journeys, suggesting that all of these journeys will use the new road?!

The North West Relief Road is going to generate more traffic and more carbon emissions in Shrewsbury, it will destroy a beautiful area of countryside and it will cost cash-strapped Shropshire Council a fortune (£21m plus any overspend) that it cannot afford. It should be scrapped.

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Teresa Adams, on behalf of Shrewsbury & Atcham Labour Party Women’s Forum

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