The long-awaited construction of the Mottram bypass has been hit by a setback after an environmental charity lodged a legal challenge.
Building work on the A57 Link Roads scheme, which is designed to tackle congestion between Manchester and Sheffield, had been due to start this spring. It followed the approval of the development consent order for the project by Transport Minister Huw Merriman in November last year.
But construction will now be delayed while an application for a judicial review of the decision is considered.
The Countryside Charity CPRE, also known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has lodged a legal challenge. The grounds for the review focus on the way ‘cumulative carbon assessments’ were carried out, along with local carbon plans, and secondly on how the assessment of alternatives and their impact on the green belt have been considered.
In a letter seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Andrew Dawson, senior project manager at National Highways said: “We had originally planned to start construction on the scheme in spring 2023. However, in light of the legal challenge this will not be possible.
“At this stage it is too early to say how much of an impact the legal challenge will have on our programme and start of works, but we anticipate that it could be several months.”
The CPRE group has filed a claim with the High Court which will decide whether to grant the charity permission to proceed. If successful it would progress to a full court hearing where a judge would assess the case.
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In a statement about the action, CPRE said: “The proposed Link Roads would increase traffic through the Peak District National Park, harming public enjoyment of its landscapes and tranquillity.
“If the Link Roads go ahead, Glossop would see increased congestion, accidents and rat running on residential streets. It will do nothing to relieve the noise, pollution and intimidation which blights the lives of the people who live along the trunk road through Hollingworth and Tintwistle, where lorries thunder past their doorsteps, rattling their windows.
“The scheme would emit thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. Yet we are in a climate and nature emergency when emissions need to reduce urgently.”
Fundraising for the judicial review challenge has raised £2,760 to date, with the target of raising £5,000 by February 9. The charity argues that other measures, such as weight restrictions for heavy lorries, and improvements in walking, cycling and buses should be trialled before road capacity is increased.
Around 25,000 vehicles currently travel along the A57 through Mottram in Longdendale every day, including more than 2,000 heavy goods vehicles travelling between Manchester and Sheffield.
Under the plans a new dual carriageway would be created from the M67 junction 4 roundabout to a new junction on the A57(T) at Mottram Moor. And a new single carriageway would also be constructed to connect to the A6018 Roe Cross Road and a new single carriageway linking the A57(T) at Mottram Moor to a new junction on the A57 at Woolley bridge.
Mr Merriman approved the recommendation by the Planning Inspectorate to give the National Highways project the green light after six months of scrutiny which ended in May last year. The approval of the bypass plans, first officially mooted more than ten years ago but which has been in the pipeline for decades, was hailed by politicians in Tameside, including MPs and the council leader as a ‘great result’.
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