The M4 to Dorset Coast Connectivity Study team is expected to report early in the New Year.
This is several months later than planned. We hope the delay is caused by the unexpected difficulty of the task they have been given – as we and other environmental groups have pointed out, there are no suitable routes for an expressway across Wessex from the motorway to the Channel ports.
Transport ministers and local councils have been looking for this fantasy road for more than three decades. A new generation of growth boosters has forgotten why the biggest schemes such as the A36 Salisbury bypass, the A350 Westbury bypass and the A36-46 viaduct east of Bath were scrapped. Nor do they know why other stretches of their dream corridors never left the drawing board.
The study team has been asked to find a route that history has shown to be too destructive or too expensive or both. They are not looking for improvements to the railway that could shift passengers and freight off the road network, cut carbon emissions or reduce air pollution in communities along the potential expressway routes.
They work for National Highways. Their job is to build roads. The title of the study tells you what kind of road they’re after - a big fast road to carry container trucks from the motorway to the ports.
They may also want new roads to pay for themselves by opening up (‘unlocking the value’ of) countryside for housing estates and business parks served by link roads to the expressway.
Your local council won’t ask you if you want this kind of strategic road. The councils along the potential routes in Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Bath or Poole haven’t asked any local communities if they’d welcome a big new highway within sight or sound of their towns and villages, day and night.
Wiltshire council asked people which routes they favoured for a distributor road east of Chippenham and an eastern bypass for Melksham, not whether they wanted these roads. They didn’t want them. The council did not withdraw them.
The M4-DC study team haven’t consulted local communities either. They won’t ask you and they’ve made it very clear they don’t want you to tell them what you think.
We think you should tell them. They have been asked to look for ‘constraints’ that could hamper road-building, such as protected landscapes, habitats and wildlife, but not harm to the health and welfare of humans and their environments. .
You can email them at email@example.com
Tell them whether or not you want a strategic highway built through Wiltshire, Dorset or Hampshire
Wiltshire Council Cabinet member for transport:
Cllr Philip Whitehead Wiltshire Council County Hall Trowbridge Wiltshire BA13 3NT
Mobile: 07769 894481 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Portfolio member for Highways, Travel and Environment:
Cllr Ray Bryan
County Hall Colliton Park Dorchester Dorset DT1 1XJ
Mobile: 07837707386 Email: email@example.com
BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) Council
Portfolio Holder for Sustainability & Transport:
Cllr Mike Greene
BCP Council Civic Centre Bourne Avenue Bournemouth BH2 6DY Email: Mike.Greene@bcpcouncil.gov.uk
Mobile: 07551 988706
Bath and NE Somerset (BANES) Council
Cabinet Member for Transport Services
Jobshare - Cllrs Neil Butters and Joanna Wright
Cllr Neil Butters
The Guildhall High Street Bath BA1 5AW
Phone: 01225 832256
Mobile: 07762 245105 Email: Neil_Butters@bathnes.gov.uk
Cllr Joanna Wright The Guildhall High Street Bath BA1 5AW
Mobile: 07582 749865 Email: Joanna_Wright@BATHNES.GOV.UK