Stroud District Green Party are calling for an urgent rethink of Highways England’s A417 bypass plans, as evidence shows the proposal will lead to congestion increases in Stroud, negative air quality impacts, and increased CO2 emissions.
Green Party prospective Parliamentary Candidate Kevin Cranston said, “The report from Highways England admits that there will be an increase in carbon emissions from every option they have considered; incredibly this comes at a time when we know we are headed down the road to climate catastrophe.
Now is the time start making decisions that take us to our goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. Expanding vehicle capacity and building new roads is like saying we’ll quit smoking after just one more cigarette.”
The multi-lane proposed bypass route (known as Option 30), confirmed by Highways England this week, cuts through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It comes after 20 years of advocacy from the County Council, and protests by local people, to address the issue of congestion. Other, cheaper and more sustainable approaches that could increase safety and reduce congestion, include variable speed limits, demand management, and public transport improvements.
Green Party County Councillor Rachel Smith (Minchinhampton Division) responded to the announcement with this statement: ‘I have been clear at the County Council that in light of the climate emergency we face, we simply cannot afford to undertake projects that will increase carbon emissions and that damage our environment.
We clearly need to improve transport in Gloucestershire: but we cannot build our way out of congestion. The evidence is clear: more space on the roads quickly leads to more car journeys being made, and any reductions in traffic jams will be short-lived.”
Rachel added: “Any politicians who recognise the Climate Emergency we are facing need to back words with actions. Unless a project can be shown to have a proven impact on reducing carbon emissions, we need to think again and find better, cheaper and more effective ways that improve transport safety, convenience and journey times.”
Green Party Councillor Martin Whiteside (Stroud District, Brimscombe and Thrupp) also responded to the announcement saying: “I am shocked to hear that the County Council and Highways England are planning to spend many millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money making air pollution and congestion in the Stroud valleys and overall CO2 emissions worse. In a time of climate emergency this is outrageous. First the incinerator disaster and now this excessive roadbuilding. How much more damage to our beautiful county and our children’s health can this County Council be responsible for?”
1]: Page 172 of the Technical Appraisal report shows the negative air quality and carbon emissions impacts forecast from the different options, including Option 30.