More correspondence with Highways England...
We recently received a response to our follow-up letter to Highways England.
As a reminder, the purpose of this correspondence has been to bring the Sefton Council-Arup report to their attention and to call for their road proposal to be either paused or cancelled in favour of the non-road, sustainable alternatives proposed.
Whilst it was always highly unlikely that this would happen at our request (!), their latest correspondence at least confirms that they are aware of the proposals and are contributing to discussions in the recently reconvened Port Access Steering Group.
However, as is always the case with Highways England, there is an assumption that their road proposal is going ahead. They dismiss the report as not being specific to the Port of Liverpool (something we already know) and make the rather bold statement that a new road is needed with or without this, presenting the road as an accepted part of the multi-modal approach to port access.
It is not.
We respond to this in our final letter.
Rather than expending more time and effort on this, we will instead continue to focus on the political approach, as ultimately, the proposed road is an instruction from the government. This is because this road proposal is just about as political as it gets, being linked to issues such as freeports, Brexit, the interests of big business (don’t forget that Peel Ports lobbied the government for funding in the first place) and the government’s own policies on air quality, mental health, the protection of green space, the climate emergency and its promise to ‘level up’ infrastructure spending in the north, to name but a few.
However, their most recent letter did offer a glimmer of hope in that it confirmed that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is now engaged in this effort and is considering the technologies proposed as part of its bid for Freeport status.
So, could this mean that our Metro Mayor is finally getting behind Sefton Council after sitting on the fence for so long?
If money can be found to take the initial findings in the Arup report further and to ‘prove’ that they would represent a better return on investment than any road proposal AND protect our environment and improve air quality on the existing route, this could be a significant step towards undermining Highways England’s project.
For our part, we are completely clear that ending up with a road AND a technological solution for moving freight containers to and from the Port of Liverpool would be just about the worst possible scenario.
Once again, Peel Ports would be having their cake and eating it, which cannot happen.
You can read our most recent letters below.