Friday, 21 February 2014

Local Greens back national call to scrap HS2 plan

 Some of the Green Party's North West candidates in the May 2014 European elections at Manchester Piccadilly on Tuesday: Lancaster's Gina Dowding, Peter Cranie, Laura Bannister and Kake Welsh. Photo: Ben Tait (Chester Young Greens)
North West Green Party European election candidates, including Lancaster's Gina Dowding, have called on government to scrap the controversial HS2 rail scheme and invest in North West’s transport.

The Greens made their appeal when they launched their new transport report Transport for the common good: a better deal for the North West (PDF link) earlier this week.

North West Greens are highlighting their opposition to plans for a new high-speed railway (HS2), and calling on the government to invest the billions of pounds earmarked for HS2 to improve the region’s creaking public transport system.

On Tuesday, commuters at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station saw Green Party campaigners holding large cheques for £1,500 – the amount HS2 will cost every household in the North West.

Each cheque featured Green Party recommendations for greater investment in regional public transport, as outlined in the new report. Party members will be asking travellers at Piccadilly how they would spend their share of the HS2 budget.

They also asked passengers to urge their local MP to support the Green Party’s parliamentary bill to bring the railways back into public ownership, which is due for its second reading in parliament on 28th February.

The North West Green Party’s new report, Transport for the common good: a better deal for the North West, sets out a vision for improved transport in the North West, including:

• Public ownership of the railways run for common good, not private profit

• Investment in the region’s railways: electrification of all lines, re-opening lines to improve connectivity and improvements to networks and stations

• A New North West regional ‘Otter card’, like London’s ‘Oyster card’

• Re-regulation of local bus services to provide cheaper, more responsive services

• Investment in local journey solutions: joined up cycling and walking routes, community car clubs

North West Green Party’s lead European election candidate, Peter Cranie, said:

“People in the North West deserve an efficient, reliable, integrated public transport system. Instead of telling people that they need a hugely expensive new railway which will only serve a handful of business people or more new roads, we’ll be asking people how they would spend the money.

“People in the North West would get a much better deal if the money earmarked for HS2 was diverted into creating an integrated public transport system which provides an attractive alternative to the car.

“In 2012 the transport sector was responsible for around 21 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions," he continued. "We’re currently seeing the devastating impact of extreme weather, caused by climate change, and we urgently need to reduce road traffic which causes these damaging emissions.”

Greens across the region have been campaigning for public transport improvements for a long time, backed by the expert advice of people such as former Lancaster resident Doctor John Whitelegg.

In Cumbria and Lancashire Greens have been fighting to save vital bus services which are under threat from council cuts, and in Liverpool party members have been calling on the council to re-open the city’s bus lanes. In Manchester the Green Party has been campaigning against the proposed new airport link road.

Peter Cranie adds: “The government’s plans to build more roads, which won’t reduce congestion, and to waste our money on the hugely expensive vanity project – High Speed Rail 2 – which will only serve a few wealthy people, are not the answer.

He concluded: “We desperately need less crowded trains, cheaper and more reliable buses and better, safer cycling routes. An improved regional transport system would effectively support local businesses, commuters, families and visitors to the region. With the right investment we can deliver what people want from their transport system: a reliable, comfortable service with cheaper fares. This would be transport which serves the common good and is fit for the 21st century.”

Next week Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas’ bill to bring the railways back into public ownership will have its second reading in the House of Commons. By taking back individual franchises when they expire, or when a company fails to meet its franchise conditions, the state could save over £1 billion a year every year – money that could then be spent on improving services and reducing rail fares.



County Council agrees budget, raises Council Tax by 1.99%

The final agreement on Lancashire County Council’s budget was given at yesterday's Full Council meeting (Thursday 20th February).

Under the agreed budget, the county council will spend £758.31 million in the financial year 2014/15. The county council's element of council tax will rise by 1.99%.

The budget identifies £142 million of the required £300 million savings that the council needs to make over the next four years.

Final agreement follows a six-week public consultation, after budget proposals had been considered by the county council's cabinet at a series of meetings in recent months.

County Councillor David Borrow, Deputy Leader of Lancashire County Council, said:

"Unprecedented central government cuts have meant that we have to reduce county council expenditure by £300 million in the next four years.

"We face a colossal financial challenge and have no option but to radically reshape what the council looks like and how it delivers services. This isn't what I came into politics for, but we have to act now and take tough decisions to avoid being in a worse position later.

"We are working very hard with our staff to ensure that we can continue to provide vital services for the people of Lancashire, particularly the most vulnerable.

"We have also been listening to the public and have focused on protecting front-line services while becoming more efficient and improving our back office processes."



Skerton man found dead in Lune

Gareth Parker
The body of a man found in the Lune Estuary on Wednesday has been identified as that of missing Skerton man Gareth Parker.

33-year-old Gareth left his home address on Barley Cop Lane in Lancaster at around 10.00pm on the 15th January.

He had not been seen since. Police initiated a nationwide appeal for information, to no avail.

CCTV images were released of Mr Parker making a purchase from his local Co-op store on the night he went missing. He then went back to his partner’s address where he spent some time prior to leaving.

His body was discovered by a dog walker marshland in the Lune Estuary on the outskirts of Stodday Village on Wednesday afternoon (19th February).

An investigation is underway and a post mortem examination will take place to establish the cause of death but at this time the death is being treated as unexplained and is not thought to be suspicious at this time.

His family have been informed and specially trained officers are offering support to them.

Our thoughts are with Gareth’s family and friends at this tragic time.




Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 19th to 27th February 2014 by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

Only two new releases during this period, drama with The Book Thief (12A) and a time traveling romance with A New York Winter's Tale (12A). It is now too late to catch the movies I, Frankenstein and Lone Survivor but we see the return of a couple of favourites with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & The Harry Hill Movie.

This is also a good period for culture with screenings of English National Opera: Peter Grimes, Globe: Henry V, Globe: Twelfth Night & NT Live: War Horse.

Offering from the Dukes include the charming comedy Inside Llewyn Davis and the latest installments of their Gothic season with Suspiria and The Company of Wolves.

Reviews

12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Category: 15
Cast Includes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Michael Fassbender
Set in the 1800s, New York black man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is drugged, kidnapped and sold as a slave to a New Orleans Plantation. Here he works for slave-master Epps (Michael Fassbender) who is a sadist, dishing out sexual abuse. The film is based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, the script being co-written by Steve McQueen and John Ridley. This is one of the finest films about American Slavery. It is very visceral, with Northup trying to maintain dignity amidst the atmosphere of violence of the movie. Very well shot and splendidly acted, this is the must see film for 2014.

Cuban Fury
Director: James Griffiths
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Rashida Jones, Olivia Colman
A boy with natural talent and a potential career as a dancer has his confidence destroyed by a bully and so his life takes a turn for the worse. Many years later as an adult Bruce Garrett (Frost) must regain his skills with Salsa in order to win the love of the woman in his life. This is a British dance comedy with some very entertaining dance sequences, a mix of wacky characters and it serves up a the laughs. However in places is seems a little too silly and in all it could have been better. However a worthwhile and entertaining comedy.

Dallas Buyers Club
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Griffin Dunne, Jared Leto
The movie is set in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Texan electrician and part-time cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is diagnosed as HIV positive and given 30 days to live. Ron finds there is no approved treatment for his condition and such is the hysteria over this disease he is ostracized by many in his circle of friends. He joins forces with a number of outcasts for form a buyers club in 1985 and undertakes a world wide search of unorthodox treatments for this condition. Potentially this could have been a depressing movie, but superb acting by McConaughey makes this an excellent film looking at the bigotry of this period. A strong film that must be seen.

Endless Love Director: Shana Feste
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde
All the classic ingredients of teen romance when privileged girl Jade meets handsome boy David but their parents try to keep them apart. David exacerbated the situation when a stupid prank resulted in the destruction of Jade's house. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Scott Spencer but struggles to capture the power of the original, leaving a film that does not really explore the characters of the lovers and fails to convince an audience.

Free Birds
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Owen Wilson, Keith David, Colm Meaney, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler
Two turkeys, Reggie and Jake, use a time machine to attend the first Thanksgiving meal in an attempt to get turkey removed from subsequent thanks-giving diners. Reggie is from a free-range turkey farm and he realises the reason why turkeys are being fattened. It is Jake who has the vision of commandeering the time machine in an attempt to change history. The film has some romantic interest with Reggie falling for Jenny, a turkey he meets during the adventure. In all the plot of this animation seems a little over complicated and the film contains some rude humour that may not be appropriate for the very young. In all an entertaining movie but one that is not destined to become a classic.

Frozen
Director: Chris Buck
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The Snow Queen' for it is she who has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (sister to the snow queen) and a loner Kristoff to undertake an epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will appeal to families and children of all ages and makes an movie for Christmas.

Gravity
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Ryan Stone (Bullock) a medical engineer and seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) are on a shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. However during a routine space walk, disaster strikes as the shuttle is destroyed by impact from space debris and Stone tumbles free in space. The film follows Stone's plight as she battles to survive. Stone gives a superlative performance in this spectacularly shot movie. However the interest of the film is not the impressive special effects but rather the exploration of human frailty in adversity.

Mr Peabody & Sherman
Director: Rob Minkoff
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter
A DreamWorks comedy animation. Mr Peabody is a dog, but this does not stop him being an inventor, scientist, sportsman and general genius. Accompanied by his boy Sherman, the duo use their WABAC time machine in order to impress Sherman's friend Penny. However during their adventures meeting famous characters of history,they accidentally rip a hole in the Universe. As a result they must repair history in order to save the future. A great yarn and appealing family movie. There is little here to offend the youngest of children, and some of the jokes will entertain an older audience.

The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Roger Allam, Emily Watson
The film is based in World War II Germany and tells the story of Liesel (Nelisse) a young girl sent to live with a foster family after family problems. She copes by stealing books to read and this enables her to become close with her foster father and with Max, a Jewish boy hiding in their basement. The film does not make any comments on the horrors of Nazi Germany, it simply provides a backdrop for what is essentially a love story, and during the film we have Death providing the narration. The acting is acceptable but the characters are not totally believable.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland
The Hunger Games started as an extremely successful trilogy by Suzanne Collins. For this reviewer, the first Hunger Games excursion into film felt a little clunky. However the Hunger Games Catching Fire got everything right and is a first rate movie. Katniss Everdeen was the winner in the 74th Hunger Games tournament and as victor she and Peeta Mellark must undertake a victors tour of the districts. However rebellion is 'in the air' and the ruler, President Snow, sees Katniss as a potential threat to the status quo. Hence he plots to discredit and kill her by involving her in a new Hunger Games along with old winners. So the participants need to defeat President Snow as well as avoiding killing each other. This is a dark, tense, thrilling and very enjoyable movie.

The Monuments Men
Director: George Clooney
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray
An action adventure based on the book 'The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History' by Robert Edsel. This tells the true story of a platoon comprising art historians and museum directors who were dispatched into World War II Germany to retrieve art works plundered by the Nazis. A very entertaining movie with a generous helping of high profile stars. Perhaps not a must-see film but still worth a visit to the cinema.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler
The story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Di Caprio) who rose from penny stocks to a life of affluence and corruption as he founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. His life of drugs, sex and ruthless achievement led to his title of Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese had produced a hard hitting and fast moving film and Di Caprio's acting rises to the challenge of portraying Belfort. However after building up Belfort as a monster the film seems to say little about about the morality of this sort of life and thus ultimately does not come to any satisfactory resolution. Hence the movie seemed to lacked any real depth.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Discount tickets and bus travel available for West End residents for "Frontierland" show


Residents of Morecambe’s West End are eligible for reduced rate £5 tickets (which includes bus travel from Morecambe to Lancaster University and back) for Frontierland, More Music’s celebratory show at Lancaster University's Nuffield Theatre on 28th February and 1st March.

Frontierland is a celebration of 20 years of More Music and features local performers from Morecambe. It brings together music created over two decades in spectacular fashion, combining it all into a mini-festival of rock, jazz, folk and choral sounds. This has been co-commissioned by Live at LICA.

 The bus will leave the Hothouse on Devonshire Road at 7.15pm and return to Morecambe by 10.30pm (the show starts at 8pm). Pre-booking is essential, please book your tickets by calling 01524 831 997 or you can buy your tickets in person by visiting the Hothouse in office hours.  

• To find out more about Frontierland, visit the webpage at www.moremusic.org.uk/frontierland

Morecambe sea front revamp ahead? City Council steps up regeneration plans with partner Carillion

Morecambe's Festival Market. Photo: Lancaster City Council
A major plan to revitalise and regenerate Morecambe have taken another step forward, after Lancaster City Council announced it is to work with the leading integrated support services company, Carillion, to identify possible opportunities for regenerating some of the town’s priority sites.

Key proposals – falling under the remit of the Lancashire Regeneration Property Partnership – could include regenerating the area around the Platform, Festival Market and surrounding car parks with new community and visitor facilities.

The Council says that better management of the seafront and integrating it with the town centre, as well as further consideration of an approach to regenerating the central promenade site, will also be included in the talks.

Councillor Janice Hanson, cabinet member with responsibility for economic regeneration, said: “The implementation of the Morecambe Area Action Plan is the key part to the council’s regeneration strategy for the town.

“An important part of that is to find a new developer partner to work with and identify schemes that will achieve our aims of attracting investment and jobs.

“Our first preference in identifying a partner is to engage with Carillion and explore the potential for a comprehensive approach for regenerating Morecambe’s key central sites.

“At this stage nothing has been set in stone and we need to see what opportunities are available before making a decision on what is, and crucially what is not, right for Morecambe. The outcomes of the discussions will be reported back to Cabinet for further discussion.”

With an annual revenue of over £4.4 billion, Carillion has a substantial portfolio of Public Private Partnership projects and extensive construction capabilities.  It employs around 40,000 people and operates across the UK, in the Middle East and Canada.

The company entered into an agreement with Lancashire County Council to form a Lancashire Regeneration Partnership in 2012 (PDF link). Carillion are working on projects in North and East Lancashire, while the  Bamber Bridge-based Eric Wright Group are partners on schemes in the South and West.

Lancashire County Council says the Regeneration Property Partnerships will boost economic activity and regeneration in the county by giving a new lease of life to buildings the council no longer needs.


The partnerships will reduce the council's running costs and generate income to go back into local services.

United Utilities announces Torrisholme Road works as part of M6 Link project


As part of the works for the Heysham to M6 Link Road, United Utilities has announced it will be undertaking works to divert a 12" and 7" water main out of Torrisholme Road to enable the construction of the Torrisholme Road Bridge.

Recent investigations by Lancashire County Council have determined that the water main diversion work connections will require full day time road closures of Torrisholme Road between the hours of 07.30 and 18.00.

The works are programmed to take place over three days from Tuesday 25th February to Thursday 27th February. Torrisholme Road will be closed on these days between Russell drive and 179 Torrisholme Road (by the College entrance).

Advance notification signs will be erected on Torrisholme Road next week.

Buses to Lancaster and Morecambe College will run as normal, but when leaving the College they will turn right onto Torrisholme Road. Stagecoach buses coming from Morecambe will terminate at Torrisholme Square; buses coming from Lancaster will follow the Morecambe Road route only.

Pedestrian access to the College will be maintained between Russell Drive and the College entrance. However, Costain (the contractors building the road) has asked that pedestrians take extra care and follow the pedestrian barrier routes and signage.

Parking for staff and students will be as normal, with the barrier between the front and rear car parks remaining in place to avoid other road users taking a short cut through College grounds. For those travelling from Morecambe or the North, you will need to drive along Morecambe Road past the College, turn left down Penrhyn Road to access Torrisholme Road and the rear entrance of the College. For those coming from Lancaster or the South, routes will remain unaffected.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Review: Haffner Orchestra

Haffner Orchestra
Saturday, 15 February 2014
in the Great Hall, Lancaster University

Reviewed by Henry Prince

Haffner Orchestra
This patron could not have been more pleased to hear the evening’s professional soloist declaim in the pre-concert talk that this amateur orchestra is “absolutely bloody marvellous”! Saved me saying it yet again and running the risk of being accused of unnecessary hyperbole.

Given that the description applies equally to the soloist herself, it is interesting to catalogue the series of happy coincidences that led to the bringing of Shostakovich’s second piano concerto to Lancaster University on Saturday night. Kathryn Stott had hinted in the pre-concert talk that the second movement of the work was something special. In the event, it may have afforded the only chance of a glimpse of Nirvana that some of us will ever get.

So what was required to set the scene? First, there must be a lass growing up in a house in Nelson which happens to have an upright piano in one room. When the young girl is about 8 years old, someone needs to suggest to her parents that they send her to the Menuhin School in Surrey for the next 8 years of her life where she will live with other similarly gifted “kids” like Nigel Kennedy and in time will move on to the Royal College of Music where she will, incidentally, meet Yo-Yo Ma (in his underpants!), with whom she will collaborate musically for decades to come.

Kathryn Stott
Photo: Lorenzo Cicconi Massi
The next ingredient in the mix is to put the young lady in a position where she begins to form strong musical opinions—whether, for example, she likes chamber music (she loves it) or she likes to play from memory (she doesn’t). Then throw the 19-year-old into the Leeds Piano Competition “for the experience” where she was scared witless (was that the word she refused to use?) when she found herself in the final with an under-prepared Beethoven ‘Emperor’ to play under television lights in the Town Hall. She somehow got through it with her dignity intact and was declared a prize-winner to boot.

Roll the calendar forward and the Haffner Orchestra approaches KS. Gone are the days when she allows others to choose her repertoire. She now plays what she wants to play and it is safe to assume that she also decides with whom she will play. Fortunately, her opinion of the Haffner was good and she said, “Yes.” Equally fortunate, for the audience, was the fact that she wanted to play the Shostakovich. A deal was struck and on Saturday evening a packed house was transported by the work’s second movement to a part of the universe normally closed off because of its very special spiritual nature.

The sojourn was brief but will last in the memory forever, it seems. Don’t expect to find that experience re-created on YouTube or indeed on any CD. It cannot be captured. You had to be in the Great Hall on Saturday to know what I am talking about. Orchestra and soloist disembodied together and hovering somewhere above the pilgrim’s way. When the moment was over, there may possibly have been a dry eye here and there, but not many. Mostly there was stunned silence, not least from the orchestral players themselves who will have been astonished at their successful control of so much emotional energy.

The outer movements of the Shostakovich were technically demanding and often flashy, but I could not help feeling that the first movement was in fact played more as a chamber work than as a full-throated concerto. I believe this must have been owing to the specific selection of tempi and dynamics. Some passages were taken very slowly and at pianissimo, with the piano part barely audible and the orchestral accompaniment even quieter. The effect was beautiful.

The evening’s programme began with a competent rendition of Beethoven’s Leonore no.1 and finished with a 15-year-old Mendelssohn’s first symphony. The exposed opening bars of the Beethoven were competently dispatched and the remainder of the piece was played with precision, control and confidence, with just the right amount of help coming from the baton.

The Mendelssohn was also well-played but betrayed in the second movement a persistent less-than-perfect attention to intonation by one of the string sections. The habit of attacking a note from its flat side (as if the note were, say, a D-flat instead of a C-sharp) and then correcting its pitch upwards is, in my opinion, the single most obvious ‘amateur’ badge remaining. Eradicate this fault and many listeners would simply disbelieve that the Haffner is not a professional orchestra.

The Arensky variations, played immediately after the interval, were a delight to hear. The theme-and-variations form is fun at any time and these were just inventive enough to be interesting but not to confuse any listener who was keeping count of the seven variations. The programme notes said that the piece, scored for strings only, was originally written for inclusion in a string quartet. It certainly had a chamber music feel and gave the Haffner strings the opportunity to show off their remarkable capability, which they did.

This orchestra is all about its players. A collection of amateur musicians from all walks of life (pushers of pens, prams and what-all) bound together by a common personal need to play music together. The better they are, the better they become. The better they become, the greater the chance to play with outstanding professionals like Kathryn Stott. It all works together for the good of everyone, including us, the listeners, who get to be there when it all comes together, as it did on Saturday evening in the Great Hall.

It was nice to see the orchestra’s principal conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa back behind the stick and giving the steady unadorned musical support that allows the Haffner to play at its best.

How can this orchestra get any better!

H. Prince


Orchestra’s website: http://www.haffnerorchestra.org/
Artist’s website: http://www.kathrynstott.com/

Concert Programme:
Beethoven: Leonore Overture no.1
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto no.2
Arensky: Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky
Mendelssohn: Symphony no.1

Tickets were priced:  Adults £13, Concessions £12, 18 and under free

Next Haffner concert: Saturday, 28 June 2014, Ashton Hall, Lancaster

Appeal following fail to stop traffic collision in Lancaster

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a cyclist sustained a shoulder injury after colliding with a van that failed to stop in Lancaster - in the same location as two accidents last year.

The collision took place around 2.00pm on Thursday 13th February on the pedestrian crossing on Cable Street at the junction with Water Street.

The pedal cyclist has been using the crossing when a Citroen White Berlingo has collided with him and failed to stop at the scene. 

The cyclist, a 26 year old local man, attended Royal Lancaster Infirmary suffering from a minor shoulder injury but was not detained.

PC Kevin Illingworth from the Road Policing Unit said: “An investigation is underway into the circumstances of exactly what happened but I would appeal to anybody that witnessed this collision or for the driver of the van involved to contact police on 101.”


The registration of the Citroen White Berlingo is believed to be PE11 MTF.

County Council allays fears over M6 clearance works

Work proceeds apace on the M6 Link near Halton Army Camp. Photo: Leslie Graham
After concerns were raised about the amount of tree felling and other clearance work by developers Costain along the route of the M6 link, Lancashire County Council has sought to reassure locals about its long term impact.

Trees and other greenery have been removed from large swathes of land near Halton Army Camp in preparation for construction on the new bride and work on Halton Road. Trees have also been felled near Lancaster and Morecambe College, along part of Barley Cop Lane.

The council says clearance work for the £120 million-plus road-building project has been timed to take place outside bird-nesting season since any delay into Spring would have brought a further delay to the project due to nesting season.

Steve McCreesh, project manager for Lancashire County Council, said: "We have removed the minimum number of trees needed for the road to be built, and all of those which have been removed are within the footprint of the construction works.

"The area of clearance around the river appears intrusive because the new bridge is nearly 34 metres wide, which is wider than the existing motorway bridge,' he told virtual-lancaster, "and there's a need for extra land for working space around such a significant structure. The working space will be replanted once the bridge is open to a standard that will significantly increase the biodiversity of this area.

"For every tree we remove during construction of the link road, 13 new trees will be planted – altogether we're removing 11,000 square metres of woodland and planting 150,000 square metres.

Speaking over concerns that the removal of trees might have an impact on the hydrology and stability of the slopes, which could lead to landslides after heavy rain, Mr McCreesh was keen to allay any fears of this. 

"Some areas need to be excavated for the road whilst other areas will require building up with the construction of embankments to support the road," he explained. "The angle of all the slopes have been the subject of engineering calculations to ensure that they will all be stable and will not be subject to landslip."