When it comes to the proposed Heysham-M6 Lorry Link road and the new Lancashire County Council it seems it's a matter of new dogs, same old tricks.
Despite a dramatic local election change at County Hall, in which many of the old promoters of the Heysham M6 lorry link road were swept away, the new Lancashire County Council has failed to seize the initiative and introduce cheaper and more efficient congestion-busting measures for North Lancashire.
A recent notice placed in local papers confirms that the 'new' Council plans to implement the old, Labour-controlled, Council’s decision to build an under-performing, expensive and destructive lorry road to Heysham Port, despite calls for transport measures to address the district’s pressing congestion problems.
Last week, the Government included the proposed road in a list of road projects for the North West, but stressed it still had some hurdles to jump before getting full approval and funding (see news story).
"This massive road is designed to attract more heavy goods traffic into our district, to use Heysham Port rather than Liverpool, despite a major down-turn in Irish road transport trade, following the recession," said David Gate, chair of local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe.
"The Lancaster and Morecambe district congestion problem is not being addressed, despite the road’s spiralling £140 million price tag. All we get in this district from this project is the loss of 173 acres of green belt and an extra dose of 23,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year."
A package of integrated transport measures, including park and ride, public transport improvements and changes to the one way system has been developed for the district by council transport consultants, at a cost estimated to be half that of the lorry Link. But although planning permission is now being sought for the Park and Ride scheme, it seems the rest of the plans continue to gather dust in Council offices while the politicians make their grand gesture.
"It is surprising that this new Council wants to make such a major contribution to the country's massive debt mountain. They claim economic and regeneration benefits for the Link, but these were blown apart at the public inquiry," said Mr Gate.
"The reality of this dated political plan is more lorries, destruction of the green belt and additional vibration, noise, light and airborne pollution for thousands of local residents."