Gloucestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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CPRE is concerned that A417 Missing Link proposals are not good enough for the Cotswolds AONB

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 12:29

Crickley Hill from Barrow Lake Crickley Hill from Barrow Lake Mark Connelly

21 February 2018

Although CPRE welcomes the Government’s commitment to deliver a road scheme to resolve long-standing problems of congestion, road safety and air quality, the environment charity has serious concerns about present proposals.  The environmental sensitivity of the Crickley Hill area cannot be overstated.  As part of the designated Cotswolds AONB, this dramatic landscape has important nationally recognised wildlife habitats and ancient monuments. All these factors demand a road scheme designed to embrace environmental considerations at its very heart rather than as an add on.

Only two surface options have been offered for consultation.  Tunnel options should also be considered and the public’s views sought on these. The outcome we should all be striving for is an exemplary road scheme that meets the needs of both the traffic and the economy while also delivering real environmental improvements, ensuring this magnificent part of the Cotswold scarp remains attractive to visitors. There will be only one opportunity to get this right.   

CPRE recognises the need for road schemes to represent value for money but this value must include the relative benefits of the environmental dimension of schemes. Decisions on infrastructure projects should take into account the value of natural capital. Only very recently the Government published its 25 Year Plan for the Environment.  It includes a commitment that AONBs, such as the Cotswolds, are not only conserved but enhanced over the next 25 years, and it makes specific reference to a natural capital approach to investment decisions.

We ask Highways England to look again at the funding available for this scheme and, in particular, consider bringing forward a tunnel option for full consultation so that it can be properly tested.  We understand that Highways England has shown that a tunnel here could be the best solution. 

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