The Campaign to Protect Rural England has created an easy-peasy online email tool for folks to lodge complaints about the Department for Transport’s road building plans. A public consultation ends tomorrow and DfT will be looking to steam-roller through its plans to build roads that many forecasters say won’t be needed in the future.
"Dear Department for Transport," starts the auto-letter (which can be modified).
"I am writing to you because I am really worried about the draft National Networks National Policy Statement you are consulting on. You are:
"Making official forecasts of traffic increasing by 46% by 2040 unchallengeable, even though traffic has stabilised at 2003 levels and needs to be controlled.
"Return to Roman-style road building with roads that plough straight through Green Belts, nationally treasured landscapes, ancient woodland and wildlife sites."
Instead, the CPRE urges DfT to build "better facilities on the main road network to get new bus and coach services moving and, for shorter distances, to make cycling and walking safer and easier."
Ralph Smyth, senior transport campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:
"Today’s your last chance to have your say on the Government’s first policy for nationally significant transport infrastructure.
"To speed up development, this policy document will be locked into law, by making it impossible to challenge in major planning inquiries – but this will also influence the whole planning system. Worryingly this includes the prediction of the discredited National Transport Model that cycling’s share of travel will stick at 2%, in fact decline slightly beyond 2020
"Although the buzzword ‘cycleproofing’ is mentioned, the devil is in the detail: cycling is deemed just a quality of life issue rather than an economic need, so facilities are only needed on main roads "’where reasonably practicable."
Smyth was the barrister acting for the London Cycling Campaign at the 2006 Thames Gateway Bridge planning inquiry. He helped defeat a six-lane road that would have unleashed a tide of traffic across East London.
"If the DfT’s policy goes through unchanged, it will be far harder to cycle-proof or indeed challenge the Mayor’s emerging proposals to provide new river crossings and roads," said Smyth.
"Outside London the picture would be even worse."