Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Battle of Peak by-pass begins
Battle lines have been drawn over plans for a major by-pass across part of a national park.Peak District National Park Authority has set out its objections to the road on the edge of Greater Manchester.The Highways Agency and Tameside council want a 3.5mile by-pass to divert traffic away from Mottram, Tintwistle and Hollingworth.If the scheme gets the go-ahead, it would link Tameside with the A628 Woodhead Pass to Yorkshire.The national park's barrister, Giles Cannock opened the planning inquiry by detailing the legal requirements for such developments to take place. He said: "Major developments should not take place in national parks except under exceptional circumstances."Problems arising with congestion are recognised by all parties and the park accepts that the proposed scheme would deliver some benefits to the three villages."But the park also asserts that the benefits fail to outweigh the clear and acknowledged harm it would cause.Impact "This is in terms of impact on the environment, the visual appearance of the park, its culture and heritage, as well as its ecology and recreational pursuits. "The park is, therefore, asking the planning inspector not to proceed with the scheme."The planning inspector has received 1,400 objections to the scheme. The A628 carries more than 40,000 vehicles a day and supporters of the bypass say it would divert 70 per cent of the traffic which currently travels through Mottram, 60 per cent from Tintwistle and 25 per cent from Hollingworth. Park transport policy manager Emily Davies reiterated that government policy recommends that new routes avoid national parks unless there are exceptional circumstances. She said: "In a national park, environmental quality is always of primary concern and long distance traffic should be redirected and road developments should go round the park."Any scheme which failed to conserve the natural beauty of the park and would not favour conservation would, therefore, fail to meet the park's needs."The bypass will not restrict traffic growth, nor will it restrict traffic on non-trunk road routes - and, therefore, it is not in accordance with government planning legislation. "There could also be an increase of traffic from the M62 on cross-park routes which, once again, is against national park policy."