North West Road
Shrewsbury & Atcham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has adopted policy to formally oppose the building of the new North West Road (NWR).
This decision follows concern from residents opposed to the building of the NWR because of
- the pandemic and its economic fallout
- the climate crisis
- spiralling construction costs
- lack of impact on town centre congestion
- a national policy shift towards sustainable forms of transport
Carbon and the climate emergency
New roads add carbon into the atmosphere during construction and will cause more congestion and emissions – all during the years when the UK aims for net zero by 2050. Furthermore, research ever since 1925 has repeatedly concluded that in the medium to long-term building new roads increases traffic which generate yet more CO2 emissions.
Biodiversity and Environmental impact
The NWR will also have a huge impact on local biodiversity and could endanger Shrewsbury’s drinking water supply. And according to the council’s own modelling, it won’t reduce congestion in the town centre.
The NWR will cost £20m per mile, for a single carriage road, at a time when other local services across the whole of Shropshire are being slashed. The Council estimate that the road will cost Shropshire tax payers a minimum of £28.5 million (including £8.7m for the associated Oxon Link Road) and possibly as much as £37m (based on the Council’s own worse-case scenario). And big infrastructure projects routinely go over-budget.
Shropshire Council will have to bear all and any increase in the cost of the NWR project. Even before COVID-19 – and without building the NWR – Tory Councillor Peter Nutting had outlined that in 2021-22 the Council will be short by £37 million.
Given Shropshire Council’s perilous finances after Covid-19, the project increasingly looks like a ruinously expensive, decades-out-of-date transport non-solution. For example, with more home working likely after Covid, there may well be reduced demand for car travel – meaning the new road is even less necessary or useful.
Better alternatives for Shrewsbury transport
We support Shrewsbury Town Council’s Big Town Plan and though it currently includes reference to the NWR it is possible that its Movement vision – which covers transport – could be achieved without the road, through the further development of alternative sustainable transport options encouraging reductions in private car use. There are many non-road building/zero carbon alternatives that are evidence based and effective at delivering all of the transport objectives attached to the Big Town Plan.