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Campaign For Better Transport conference

Campaign For Better Transport conference, Birmingham

Former Tory Transport Minister condemns new road building programme

At a conference in Birmingham, campaigners against the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road combined forces with other groups and individuals, who also strongly object to the government’s plans to build a whole network of new roads throughout the country, writes HOT’s Zelly Restorick.

The conference was organised by the The Campaign for Better Transport [CBT], bringing together campaigning groups from across the UK, including Oxford, Norwich, Manchester, Nuneaton, Lancaster, Nottingham and Stockport.  Taking part were Abby Nicol and Andrea Needham, from the Combe Haven Defenders, who travelled to Birmingham to gather momentum and support for their protest against the BHLR, due to start being built in January.

A new Bexhill-based group – Bexhill Link Road Resistance (BLINKRR) – has also recently been formed, opposing the construction of the BHLR.

A recent major report by the Campaign for Better Transport, which provides details of the 191 road projects, includes a forward by former Tory Transport Minister, Stephen Norris.

‘Experience tells us clearly that a massive programme of road building won’t solve [the problems of economic inertia, congested roads and housing shortages] … Investing in effective, affordable and easy to use public transport is part of the solution. So is planning new developments, so that they do not rely on cars. Most of all, now is the time for brave and creative decision-making, not a return to the past.”

To read the report and see regionalised maps of the planned road building programme, click on this link.

In the 1990s, the government proposed a similarly huge road building programme, which was cancelled after huge protests from groups across the UK, such a ALARM UK and CBT.  The current government is trying to revive the new road building programme with a plan to build 191 new roads in England and Wales, covering a distance of 772 miles.  The cost of this has been conservatively estimated at £30bn.  Do you find this hard to believe, in this time of massive spending cuts, climate change warnings and policies designed to reduce our national carbon footprint?

The new roads will impact four National Parks, seven Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, thrity nine Sites of Special Scientific Interest, three National Nature Reserves, fifty four Ancient Woodlands and two hundred and thirty four Local Wildlife Sites.  As can be imagined, many people, individuals and groups, are vehemently opposed to the new road programme.  The environmental group, Friends of the Earth, commented that plans for new roads were ‘throwing good money after bad’.

Speaking after the conference, Andrea Needham said, “It was great to meet campaigners from all over the country, working to stop their local countryside being destroyed in the same way as we’re trying to save Combe Haven. We heard many stories about how roadbuilding in the 90s was brought to a halt by protest, in some cases at the eleventh hour, and were inspired by the energy and commitment to oppose this new wave of roadbuilding.”

Krysia Mansfield, another spokesperson for the group added: ‘Amber Rudd’s support for the Link Road – an environmentally disastrous white-elephant project that will increase overall traffic levels, while derailing sustainable transport alternatives – means that she is currently part of the problem. We urge her to take note of former Tory Transport Minister Steven Norris’ wise words and withdraw her support for the Link Road.’

The Combe Haven Defenders (CHD), are calling on 1,066 people from across the country to “pledge to take part in peaceful resistance to the construction of the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road”.

Bayeux Tapestry pastiche

Bayeux Tapestry pastiche

The invitation to “Join the Second Battle of Hastings” was launched recently with a pastiche of the Bayeux Tapestry – featuring Chancellor George Osborne on a bulldozer, anti-road campaigners and examples of local wild-life from the Combe Haven Valley.



Contact The Combe Haven Defenders : 07926 423 033 or via website.

To sign the Pledge support to the campaign against the BHLR, click on link.

Campaign for Better Transport Conference link.

Report by Campaign for Better Transport :

Posted 23:31 Sunday, Nov 11, 2012 In: Campaigns

Also in: Campaigns

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