Better Shrewsbury Transport insists Shropshire Council should scrap the relief road proposals and ask the Department for Transport to provide funds to overhaul the county’s transport system for the 21st century.
It comes after government forecasts predicted an “upper” traffic increase on roads in England and Wales of 44 per cent by 2050, with a “core” increase of 19 per cent.
Mike Streetly, a spokesperson for Better Shrewsbury Transport, said: “This report is important because the predicted increase in traffic under the ‘core’ scenario is similar to that being used by Shropshire Council to make the economic case for the proposed North West Relief Road. (NWRR). In both cases the amount of carbon emissions reduction is well short of what’s needed to tackle the climate emergency.
“It is clear that the Government (and Shropshire Council) is not serious about the climate emergency and is planning for failure on its legally binding net zero target. Once again the Government is setting the rules for transport planning to justify its ‘business as usual’ approach whereby new roads are built to ‘relieve’ congestion but end up encouraging more people to drive. Building more roads to prevent congestion is like a fat man loosening his belt to prevent obesity.
“Instead of begging the DfT for millions more for the NWRR, Shropshire Council should be asking central government for money to overhaul our transport system for the 21st century. Proper investment in sustainable travel will properly reduce congestion, freeing up the roads for those who need them.Anything else is insanity.”
A planning application for the four-mile stretch of road drew more than 4,000 objections, with major concerns over the environmental impacts and costs to the taxpayer.
Councillor Richard Marshall, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for highways, said: “The Shrewsbury North West Relief Road (NWRR) is currently being considered as part of the planning process and a decision is expected early next year.
“The proposed road represents a key ‘missing link’ in Shropshire’s road network.
“It would complete the ring road circle around Shrewsbury, reduce congestion and traffic in Shrewsbury town centre, and at a number of major bottleneck points on the A5 outside the town. By reducing traffic in Shrewsbury, it would be key to encouraging more people to walk, cycle and use public transport within the town, making this a more attractive place for residents and visitors.
“It would also boost economic growth in the county and for many businesses and communities along the A5, reducing road journey times from north to south and eastern Shropshire and vice versa.
“Understandably, some people have concerns about the road’s impact on the environment and climate change. While there will be significant net carbon costs in the initial construction of the road, however moving the traffic away from the town center and reducing congestion in and around Shrewsbury will reduce emissions, improve air quality and improve road safety in the longer term.
“The road is also designed to minimize any impact on local ecology and habitats by including the planting of trees, improvements to the nearby Hencott Pool SSSI and a number of new cycleways, footpaths and bridleways, linking these up with existing rights of way.
“If approved, further analysis and modeling of these forecast improvements will be submitted as part of the Full Business Case which will be considered by the Department for Transport (DfT), ahead of any construction.”