Hearings into the Heysham M6 Link Road have revealed that the justification for the scheme has been shot to pieces.
The Examination, which has been running for some weeks now, is being conducted by Mr Robottom, the Examiner for the new planning body, the National Infrastructure Directorate or NID, previously IPC.
“Open Floor” Hearings in Lancaster Town Hall and Torrisholme have given everyone the chance to speak their mind on the scheme. 31 people did so, and 30 of them told the Examiner how strongly they opposed this damaging and polluting scheme.
Campaigners Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe argue the new process, with the Examiner asking questions, rather than expensive barristers fighting it out, has revealed the holes in Lancashire County Council’s case.
“The Link Road is not intended to solve Lancaster’s problems” was just one surprising admission from the manager for the Link Road, Steven McCreesh.
The Council has also had to admit that the traffic figures they used in 2007 were wrong by 20 to 30%. They forecast that traffic would increase by 1.5% per year, but the actual increase has been only 0.5% per year.
The scheme was given the go ahead on those wrong figures, but things look very different now.
“We questioned those figures back in 2007, and time has proved us right”, said David Gate, Chair of TSLM. “Now they’re using figures from 2008, and there’s no guarantee they’re correct either.
"It’s preposterous to justify a £123 million scheme on such flimsy grounds”.
The forecast time savings on journeys on the new road have gone down to five minutes, at peak times only, which would hardly be noticeable for the long-distance drivers who will be using it.
The Council has also been taken to task for failing to investigate the alternatives, which include a package of transport measures proposed by TSLM that would really reduce congestion.
"These alternatives look even more attractive now, and cheaper in these days of cost-cutting," says David.
The Examination is expected to end in mid September, with a decision announced in early 2013.