You couldn't make it up.
There is confusion and anger amongst the communities surrounding Rimrose Valley over the latest claims made by Highways England regarding the feasibility of a tunnel option and its suggested impact on the surrounding area. This follows the Government Agency’s u-turn in announcing that Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) would, in fact, be required to deliver its preferred route, having previously stated that none were necessary.
In a recent letter, written in response to an article in the Liverpool Echo, Senior Project Manager, Carl Stockton stated:“We have never made ‘assurances’ there would be no requirement to buy property. In developing the option we said we didn’t think we’d need any – but, not unusually, as the actual design has evolved, it’s become clear some land is needed involving 11 properties (compared to up to 250 for a tunnel)”.
However, not only do residents dispute that such assurances were indeed given during the public consultation, Carl Stockton’s figure of 250 contradicts the information in Highways England’s own March 2018 newsletter. In it, the Government Agency claimed that a tunnel: “…might also involve the compulsory purchase and demolition of up to 200 homes and businesses.”
Stuart Bennett of the Save Rimrose Valley Campaign Team said:“Highways England’s response to a light being shone on its u-turn over CPOs is simply to ‘up the ante’ and add another 50 properties to its ‘finger in the air’ estimate of the number of CPOs which ‘might’ be required for a tunnel.
Where exactly is this figure coming from? Where are the plans? Who was commissioned to prepare them? What was their brief? To bulldoze as many homes as possible? What alternative routes were explored? Will Carl Stockton simply increase the number of CPOs each time this ill-conceived route comes under more scrutiny?
We believe Highways England is trying to spread fear amongst our communities that a tunnel option would result in the loss of even more homes. We do not believe this is acceptable behaviour by a publicly-funded body. It needs to be held to account for the inconsistencies in its statements.”
Rimrose Valley Friends are staging a public “Hands Across the Valley” event on Saturday, 29th September, 2018 from 10am to midday. The event will feature guest speakers, followed by a co-ordinated visual protest. Click here to find out more about this and other events and protests, and by following the campaign’s social media accounts, or signing up to the Rimrose Valley Friends website and registering as a friend:
1) Carl Stockton’s Letter to Liverpool Echo, Sunday 5th August. Copy available on request.
2) Link to HE’s March 2018 Newsletter Media & Documents, Newsletters:
3) Details and results of Highways England’s public consultation, in which the bypass through Rimrose Valley was the least favoured option: