As you may remember, following on from Highways England’s consultation in 2017 and the subsequent judicial review brought by Sefton Council the following year, we launched our own ‘alternative’ consultation.
We did this because we wanted to seek YOUR views on how to go about tackling the infrastructure problems created by the Port of Liverpool’s expansion by including options which were never on the table.
We’ve had a few pushes on promoting this in the intervening time and have now brought it to a close, following the launch of our latest survey to capture information on the park’s use.
We acknowledge that an element of our consultation was tongue-in-cheek as it included the two “options” Highways England presented to the public (which were actually no options at all) and described them in terms which reflected the reality of what was on offer.
A few people have raised whether this would count against us when we come to rely on these results further down the line.
We do not believe that this is the case.
This was an exercise in finding out what people’s appetite was for something different and the starting point for our consultation – being a campaign, not a government-owned company with an agenda of its own – was that we rejected both of Highways England’s proposals as not fit for purpose.
The results were as follows. Of the 1,223 responses:
1% of participants chose Highways England’s “Option A” – widening sections of the existing A5036
4% of participants chose Highways England’s “Option B” – constructing a motorway through Rimrose Valley
37% of participants chose our “Option C” – Constructing a tunnel from the Port to the motorway network
58% of participants chose our “Option D” – Developing a non-road, multi-modal solution and improved measures to tackle non-port related traffic
Whichever way you choose to look at the above, the message is clear; the public wants to pursue options that were never up for discussion.
As a reminder, this is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) being delivered and paid for by YOUR money for the primary benefit of Peel Ports, owners and operators of the Port of Liverpool.
Presumably, therefore, this is of great importance to ‘UK plc’ and its capacity for global trade in a post-Brexit world.
And yet it has been granted a Council-sized budget of just £250m.
It is this paltry figure which has meant that (so far) other, sustainable, non-road options have not been fully explored, let alone presented to us for our consideration.
Instead, Highways England got the gig and they’ve been scratching their heads ever since, trying to work out how to extend a motorway where one doesn’t belong.
Regarding the tunnel option, over the course of our campaign we have learned that building new roads – whether they be above ground or underground – is not the answer.
We’ve read and shared studies which make it clear: if you build more roads; you get more traffic.
In addition, this contributes to the climate emergency which is very real indeed.
So, we stand with the 58% of you who believe that we should be pursuing a different path to the infrastructure challenges of the 21st century.
(We also admit that we heaved a sigh of relief that this was by far the most popular choice!) However, as we pointed out in the consultation itself, this requires a few important things, namely: vision, the appetite to do something different; and more money.
Again, we come back to where this figure of £250m came from, when comparable infrastructure schemes in the south of the country have been allocated billions?
Billions here would open up so many more possibilities, which wouldn’t have to involve tarmacking a country park.
There are 4 simple steps the UK Government can take to get us out of the mess we find ourselves in:
1) Cancel the road building project
2) Research and cost viable, sustainable alternatives
3) Present these to the public in a true and meaningful consultation, incorporating its feedback
4) Find the money to deliver a solution the public actually wants
This particular government has been very good at miraculously finding money lately.
All we ask is that it does the same for us.