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Green Party leader joins local campaign for rethink of A417 plans

On Friday, Sian Berry, Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, will be visiting Crickley Hill to see the impact that the proposed £500m A417 expansion planned by Highways England will have on the landscape. She will be joined by members of Gloucestershire’s Green Party.

Crickley Hill and the surrounding Cotswold escarpment is part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, home to diverse species of plants and animals. As well as being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it is also an important archaeological site, where humans have lived since at least
4,000 BC.

Cate Cody, Green Party Candidate for Tewkesbury, said “The proposed multi-lane bypass route (known as Option 30), cuts through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At a time of catastrophic wildlife decline, it is utterly outrageous that other local parties are backing this damaging project.”

Road safety issues and congestion are cited as the reasons for building the additional road capacity, which will see vehicles travelling at much higher speeds.

However, Sabrina Poole, Chair of Cotswold Green Party, said “In the twenty years of lobbying for this road scheme, no efforts have been made to manage traffic through other congestion-easing options, such as variable speed limits, improvements to shared transport, or to lower or enforce traffic speeds.”

Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud, 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 to 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.”

According to Highways England’s own analysis, the increase in the road’s capacity will see an increase in congestion and air pollution in the surrounding towns of Stroud, Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Leader of the Green Group on Gloucestershire County Council, Rachel Smith said, “When we give more space to cars, we end up with more cars, and more CO2 emissions. We simply cannot build our way out of congestion. According to Highways England’s analysis, the A417 road expansion project will result in a net growth in CO2 emissions.”

Sabrina Poole added “Gloucestershire County Council should not be putting council taxpayers’ money into new roads when they are failing to keep our existing roads free of potholes. Roads in the Cotswolds are currently very dangerous for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Sian Berry is co-leader of the Green Party with Jonathan Bartley. Sian grew up in Gloucestershire, and is now a member of the London Assembly and a Councillor in Camden. She will be meeting with local campaigners at Crickley Hill Visitor Centre on Friday 12th April at 10am.

Notes

  • Highways England set a budget of £250m – £500m for a road scheme to deal with congestion on the A417 and have considered a number of options, including a tunnel. In 2018 they consulted on two overground options, and on 21st March selected ‘Option 30’, which cuts through the AONB and SSSI. https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a417-missing-link
  • The consultation report published with this announcement shows opposition from Campaign for Better Transport and Campaign to Protect Rural England, as well as major concerns from a range of other consultation respondents.
  • The technical reports published with the announcement show the project will create an increase in CO2 emissions.
  • A website, http://www.missingthink.co.uk will also be launched on Friday to outline the need for a different approach to congestion and travel policy in Gloucestershire.
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