Monday, April 07, 2008

Business as usual (or the folly of petitions)

The Government has published a response to the (now closed) e-petition against the Longdendale Bypass today. We'd rather comment on it before we publish it here, then you can choose to read it if you can be bothered.

Let's face it, you know how it reads, you've heard it many times before. But what is a real slap in the face is the last two paragraphs that appear to stamp out any hope that the government will listen to reason about Woodhead. Clearly, the time for polite campaigning and asking the government to do things is drawing to a close. Only today, NASA (of all people!) have pointed out that the EU's Carbon Emission Reduction targets are set far too low. In a phrase that should send a chill down everyone's spine, Dr James Hansen from NASA said further cuts were needed if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed".

Clearly, the future does not lie with those who will not change radically, nor their institutions. This veritable 'Gas Chamber of Commerce' that seeks to place the economic considerations of a few rich bastards above every other poor victim on this planet cannot state it's 'business as usual' - Rome is Burning.

Read it and weep...

The Government remains committed to a safe and reliable trunk road network as part of the overall provision of transport for the country, and will provide improvements to the network where they are shown to be required. However, this is subject to the need to show that alternatives to road building have been investigated and where appropriate can be implemented.

Any improvements to the road network need to provide the highest levels of environmental mitigation, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Peak District Park.

The Highways Agency (Agency) was asked to identify a Scheme that considers all these issues. A history of the scheme can been seen on the website

The Agency does not believe that it is necessary to withdraw the A57/A628 Mottram-Tintwistle Bypass scheme as it remains firmly of the opinion that a bypass is the optimum solution to the problems of congestion within the villages of Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle.

However, the Agency is currently considering the alternatives proposed by other parties and will be responding to these matters during the Public Inquiry.

In Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle there are 446 properties immediately adjacent to the Trunk Road. These properties are mostly residential but also include commercial, community use and recreational facilities. These residents currently have unacceptable levels of traffic noise, visual intrusion and severance, poor environment, air quality, safety and accessibility problems.

The proposed scheme would remove a significant proportion of traffic including HGVs from the trunk road within these villages and the journey times for travellers on the trunk road would be improved. The Route Restraint Measures on the A628 would reduce the attraction of the route to long distance traffic, and the Safety Measures would offset the effects of additional traffic on the trunk road network.

Mitigation measures would include new speed limits, additional traffic signals at Flouch junction, Langsett and Midhopestones, signs, rumblestrips and safety cameras.

There are no plans to re-open the Manchester to Sheffield route via the Woodhead Tunnels (known locally as the Woodland Pass). The Government's strategy for the development of the railway is contained in the White Paper 'Delivering a Sustainable Railway'.

Although the White Paper seeks significant increases in capacity on Trans-Pennine routes, this can be achieved by running longer trains and by Network Rail proposing capacity enhancements on existing routes, should this be required.

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