More public anger at disparity of Highways England’s treatment of different communities is revealed
Updated: Aug 6, 2018
There was shock and anger amongst the residents of the Rimrose Valley area after it was discovered that Highways England seemingly has a wildly different approach to working with the community in a project in the south of England. The Lower Thames Crossing, which is designed to relieve the pressure on the existing A282 Dartford Crossing, has been through a similar public consultation process, whereby four options were presented to the public.
The anger stems from the fact that the option Highways England has chosen to proceed with is a bored tunnel. This is a solution which was not even presented as an option to our own public, on the grounds of cost alone. Back in January, 2016, Martin Potts, of Highways England said that the proposed tunnel “Provides double the economic benefits” of another of the other options presented. He said it would help in “…Reducing congestion and improving resilience of the road network. By choosing a tunnel rather than a bridge we can minimise the effects of the new road on the environment”.
Further, at a recent annual New Civil Engineer Tunnelling Awards 2017, Tim Jones, also of Highways England waxed lyrical on how “Communities have an increasingly powerful voice, particularly in key areas such as air pollution, traffic and sustainability”. He added “Our transparency will give us authenticity as we stand in harmony and parity with local communities, making them better and healthier places to live”.
Stuart Bennett of the Save Rimrose Valley Road Action Group said:
“This flies in the face of everything we have been told by Highways England about our own situation. It is a double standard. How can it be right to be so publicly committed to protecting public health and the environment in the South and yet for this to not even be on the agenda in relation to the Port of Liverpool access project? Are our health and our environment less important than those in the South?
Whilst the geography of the other project is obviously different, in that there is a need to cross the River Thames, the overriding principles are exactly the same.
However, we are being told that a bored tunnel solution is not even worthy of consideration due to cost alone, whilst at the same time, the Lower Thames Crossing community are to have this due to its ‘economic benefits’ and on account of it ‘minimising the effects of the new road on the environment’.
At no point has Highways England reached out to our community to explore other, environmentally sound solutions which factor in the impact to the public’s health. The only contact they have had with us has been an offer to work with them to reduce the impact of building a road we don’t even want. We are demanding to know when, exactly, consideration was given to making our community a ‘better and healthier place to live’? It certainly wasn’t done prior to presenting two, terrible options to us during the laughable public consultation process. The fact of the matter is that a road through Rimrose Valley will make our community a worse and unhealthier place”.
In a recent article on their website, Rimrose Valley Friends are calling for people to take matters into their own hands and to let Highways England know exactly how they feel. They are encouraging the public to use Twitter to do so, using the handles @RimroseValley and @HighwaysEngland. You can learn more by reading the latest news article on their website, www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org
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