2 October 2013: The South Bristol Link is one of the most pointless and damaging proposed road schemes. Campaigner Pip Sheard has recently helped launch a new website, bringing together local groups to oppose the road's planning application.
Both Bristol and North Somerset could do so much more for public transport than with this outdated 1960s scheme. During the course of the next six weeks, groups opposed to the road will be putting forward their own ideas of an integrated public transport and cycling package for South Bristol.
Our new website, with Facebook and Twitter support has also been launched, giving a voice to groups who oppose the proposed new South Bristol Link road and Bus Rapid Transit. The site is at www.nosouthbristollink.co.uk – please visit and see why we oppose the plans, and join us on Facebook and Twitter too.
In about six weeks' time, Councillors on the Bristol and North Somerset planning committees will consider the South Bristol Link road planning application and decide forever the fate of the city's South Western greenbelt, and the website also features the submissions of a range of local organisations who have objected to the road during the consultation on the recent planning application, including two Parish Councils in North Somerset.
The road will cost local councils dearly. Bristol City Council and North Somerset Councils have secured from the Government about 65% of the cost of a new combined road and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme, but the rest of the funding is coming from local councils and from Bristol Airport. The councils have signed an agreement with the Department for Transport that 100% of any cost overrun will be met by them, which is likely to mean raiding other local budgets as costs increase.
The environmental impacts on the countryside, farms and wildlife and on the local Bishopsworth community will be appalling during construction and when the road is planned to open in 2016.
The road would run through the City's South western greenbelt over farm land, taking off a piece of Hanging Hill wood (ancient woodland) and the edge of the well-used Highridge Common and then running down a residential road into the city. The scheme's engineering includes the complicated rebuilding of the existing rail bridge on the main line to the South West to allow the road to run underneath, which is also likely to cause disruption to local trains to Weston and main line trains. The road would also be elevated and highly visible for most of the section between the A370 and the A38.
Recent local newspaper coverage shows that the business community are lobbying strongly for it but that those against have lodged more objections than those in favour. This scheme clearly needs a much wider public airing so that the transport benefits (which are minute) can be weighed against the long list of adverse impacts, and against the much better transport alternatives which are not being offered to local residents.
If you oppose the road, you can help by:
Sending in an objection to the scheme here (planning application is 13/031085/F).The official deadline for objections has passed but online comments to the planning officer can still be submitted until the date of the meeting. You can also copy in the councillors on the planning committee – emails are listed on our 'How to Help' page
Some of the public and local businesses still think that it will improve congestion in South Bristol and solve transport problems for the nearby village of Barrow Gurney. Looking carefully at the current traffic projections in the proposals, they do not support these claims. There is also no clear evidence to support the claim made by the West of England Partnership that the road will create 2,500 jobs by 2030.
Both the road and the BRT are poor value transport schemes, and the rising costs of construction will be a big financial liability for both Councils. The Partnership's consultants have predicted that the BRT bus service will carry just 27 passengers during the peak hour in 2016 - with a bus frequency every 18 minutes so about 7-9 people on each bus. This isn't a new era in public transport. We doubt it will ever run. The time savings for motorists on the road are so small (43 seconds) that they probably won't even notice. Even as a road it doesn't stack up.
Our considered view is that the Link is a waste of transport funds and the wrong transport direction for a Green Capital 2015. The scheme should be abandoned. The main way to stop the road is for Councillors to refuse planning permission. Please join our campaign today, object to this plan and get better ideas considered for Bristol.
A guest post by Pip Sheard of the No to the South Bristol Link campaign