Monday, 13 June 2011

Heysham Link: still time to Make Your View heard

Lancashire County Council will host more consultations about the Heysham M6 Link this week - and opposition continues to the scheme on grounds of cost and location.

There are also concerns that the County may have misled local residents about the nature of the consultation, with press advertisements perhaps giving the impression that only design elements of the road can be considered.

In fact, under the terms of the scheme's consideration by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (PDF), it is clear that it is possible for residents to protest about the entire scheme.

The Commission's document clearly states: "It was specifically noted that the examination will consider the whole scheme as presented to the IPC and not just the amendments to the previously consented scheme."

Despite this, the emphasis of the County' newspaper advertisements, literature, consultation displays and online presentation emphasized the proposed road's design and design changes.

One virtual-lancaster reader told us they were considering complaining about the County's newspapers advertisements to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Other local residents continue to object to the road on the grounds of its proposed route and expense at a time when cuts are being made to our police, health and education services. The scheme's costs are also open-ended – if the road is built and costs more to build, how will County fund it?

Specific concerns raised at consultations include:

  • The County Council claims raising the roundabout at Shefferlands will save £7.3 million, because earth does not have to be removed from site – but in the original plans, no earth was to be removed from site:  is this a real saving?
  • Changing Junction 34 design is said to save £1.8 million – but it was designed to meet safety guidelines – so why is it safe now?
  • The new Lune bridge and road to Shefferlands will be steep – surely this will have added noise impact in Halton?
  • If Shefferlands Roundabout can be raised by 14 metres, why can’t the road be lowered in other places? For example, the Junction at ground level on Torrisholme Road and Lancaster Road, with traffic lights (as in the 1997 plans), instead of a 26 foot flyover?
  • The Council claims reducing lighting on most of the Link will save money – but previously they claimed it was essential for safety – so why is it safe now?
  • Why can't the road not go under, rather than over, the West Coast Main Line and Lancaster Canal (which was proposed in 1997), to make it less a blot on the landscape?
  • The County Council asked businesses to contribute to the scheme, which many businessmen claim is essential, and yet no local business has put their hand in their pocket. If members of the Chamber of Commerce think the road is so vital, why are they so reticent at giving it any financial backing?
Campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe remains dubious about claimed benefits to traffic flow, employment ebenfits and the road's claimed contribution to the local economy.  They also point out that the County Council has refused to consider cheaper alternatives, or a package of sustainable transport measures, voted for by Lancaster City Council (20 June 2007), drafted by transport experts Faber Maunsell, developed in James Report by local sustainable transport group (PDF here).

"This is not a 'foregone conclusion'," says TSLM chair David Gate. "Tell them what you think!"



• The next consultations are:
 

• Today, Monday, June 13, 11.30 am to 4.30 pm, The Atlantic Room, Cannon Hygiene, Northgate, White Lund Industrial Estate
• Tuesday 14th June 14, 2.30 pm to 7.30 pm, The Centre@Halton, LowRoad, Halton.
• Wednesday June 15, 2.30 pm to 7.30 pm, Torrisholme Methodist Church HaIl, Norwood Drive, Torrisholme


• You can write to the County Council expressing your views by 31st July 2011 at Heysham to M6 Link, Lancashire County Council, PO BOX 100, County Hall, Preston PR1 0LD; or Email: heyshamtom6link@lancashire.gov.uk

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