Our reasons for opposing NWR
The following sets out some of the main reasons for Shrewsbury and Atcham CLP’s opposition to the NWR.
- Labour led the way in 2019’s Climate Emergency declarations by Shrewsbury Town and Shropshire Council. Ironically, the government and Tory dominated Shropshire Council have agreed to fund the road just at the point at which both declared a climate emergency. Meeting the government’s target of net zero carbon emissions means that, even with widespread conversion to electric cars, car mileage will need to reduce by 20% by 2030.
- There are healthier, cheaper and more sustainable alternatives. We desperately need investment in well- established alternatives for reducing traffic congestion throughout the town (such as walking, cycling and public transport). These sustainable alternatives provide multiple other benefits in terms of health, community cohesion, reduced accidents. The council has recently reduced its contribution to the Park & Ride scheme by £80K thus making congestion in the town worse.
- We need cleaner air now: air pollution in parts of Shrewsbury is already at illegal levels, especially in the Station/Coton Hill area. The new road will also increase traffic noise. The road is upwind of the town and has a raised bridge across the Severn that will allow sound to travel down the river into the town. The council’s own, optimistic traffic modelling already shows the new road making traffic much worse on roads such as Berwick Road, Featherbed Lane and all the area around Shelton and Bicton.
- A quarter of our population does not have access to a car: this is generally the young, the very old and socially deprived groups. The council is diverting funds away from transport modes that support these groups (buses and cycling) towards car users, thereby increasing inequality.
- The road will be built through Shrewsbury’s ‘Green Wedge’. This has been identified in the Big Town Plan as a unique and important feature of Shrewsbury that brings nature in to the heart of the town. Shropshire Wildlife Trust says that the road “has guaranteed enormous environmental costs” and will run right next to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and through an ancient woodland.
- On current proposals, it put the town’s water supply at risk: The North West Road and Oxon Link road are both planned to be built over the Source Protection Zone for Severn Trent Water’s Shelton borehole. The North West Road will also cross the river adjacent to the company’s river intake – a pollution incident on the road would immediately put our water supply at risk.
- A new road means more houses. Developers will see the new road as an ideal opportunity to open up the ‘Green Wedge’ for housing. We need more homes but will these be the right kind in the right place? A major scheme has been proposed between Shelton and the river as part of the current consultation for the Local Plan and applications have been lodged to extend the town’s development boundary to the west of Ellesmere Road which shows that there are potentially >5000 houses once the North West road opens up the area. These houses will have cars which will add more congestion to the roads that the road scheme is supposedly trying to alleviate.
- The Council’s capital contribution towards the new road may divert money obtained from developers that could be used for other more sustainable schemes across Shropshire. The Council may have to sell off local assets in the form of land or raid the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds. These levies are planned to help local communities across Shropshire to adjust to the added burden of higher population e.g. by providing new schools, playgrounds and community facilities. Discussions with local people show that this is an issue many residents are very concerned about.
- For additional evidence, references, facts and figures regarding the policy and points made above see:
- An estimate of the embodied carbon associated with the total life cycle of materials and construction of the NWR, Shrewsbury, Shropshire (Professor John Whitelegg – Foundation for Integrated Transport). January 2021
- New roads generate more traffic Source: Local Transport Today LTT450 24 August, 2006
- Shrewsbury’s North West Road – Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST) – Briefing Guide- January 2021
- Shrewsbury Big Town Plan – Vision (2021)
- Zero Carbon Shropshire Plan – Shropshire Climate Action Partnership (SCAP) – 2021
- Shrewsbury North West Road, a Critical Appraisal -Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth (2020)
- The End of the Road? Challenging the Road Building Consensus – CPRE (2017)
- A country in a jam: tackling congestion in our towns and cities. How councils are dealing with congestion and how they could do more – Local Government Association (LGA) – 2017
- Shropshire Council Scrutiny Committee – November 2020 – Shrewsbury North West Relief Road (NWRR) – Project Update