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A57 Link Roads Project

Tomo Thompson
By Tomo Thompson
10th November 2020

Consultation on the first length of road for a dualled expressway across the Peak District National Park started on 5th of November.

Consultation on the first length of road for a dualled expressway across the Peak District National Park started on Bonfire Night.  In the face of a climate and ecological emergency, and with transport the most polluting sector for carbon emissions, Highways England continues to roll out expansion of its motorway network. The A57 Link Roads Project – a bypass of Mottram with a link road to Glossop – does not yet reach the National Park boundary but the plan is to extend the dualling east, towards and through the Park to the M1 in South Yorkshire.

Although the expressway through the Park would have a short tunnel under the moors, the route would become a bypass of the M62 motorway, with traffic along the corridor forecast to treble. To this intrusive noisy and disturbing movement would be added the paraphernalia of road signs, crash barriers, lighting columns and CCTV. A new major road corridor imposed on the strongly protected Peak District National Park, its setting and the wider countryside – do we really want this as a birthday present on the eve of the Park’s 70thbirthday?

But protecting the National Park should not be at the expense of the local communities. They urgently need to be relieved of traffic, as they were during the Covid-19 lockdown. The A57 Link Roads would relieve congestion in Mottram but simply shift the traffic jam further east, with continuing air pollution and rising carbon emissions. Nearby Hollingworth and Tintwistle would be left to endure the current unacceptable conditions. Unsurprisingly this outcome is not popular. Demands for a bypass of these two villages will become politically irresistible, and fuel the laying of yet more tarmac, which will generate yet more traffic. And so the cycle goes on…

Instead road space should be taken from cars and given to walking, safe cycle routes, bus and coach services. Coupled with improved train services, maybe a tram service, and restriction of heavy lorries from crossing the Peak Park these measures offer the best way out.

In the current situation, when climate emissions need to come down urgently, planning for yet more car journeys seems like a criminal offence and a huge waste of resources. But such plans are also out of sync with our Covid world. A recent YouGov survey indicated that most UK workers wanted to work from home for at least some of the time once the pandemic is over, leading to a substantial decrease in the numbers of commuters using this route. Highways England should reflect on how the world has changed, abandon this outdated 20thcentury project and give the National Park something to celebrate next year.

Find the consultation here It ends on December 17th.