North West Road consultation starts

The public consultation process has now started for the Shrewsbury North West Road. Our Climate Change expert Robin Mager explains why we need to fight the plans.

When the Trust first started looking at the scheme to build a ‘relief’ road for Shrewsbury many years ago, our main concerns were the direct impacts to wildlife and habitats along the route that might have resulted.

But while Shropshire Council may be stuck with ideas from before the time of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, mobile phones and the internet, things have very definitely moved on. Shropshire Wildlife Trust now takes into account broader issues such as the climate emergency when looking at the impacts of proposals such as the NWR.

The Wildlife Trusts nationally have recognised that climate change “presents the biggest long-term threat to the survival of our wildlife”. Recent decisions such as Heathrow’s third runway and the abandonment of relief road proposals from towns such as Durham show that many infrastructure plans are "not justified", not consistent with national policy and in some cases even illegal!

NWRR Clayton Way view west

The proposed route will pass through the Severn floodplain

While we may have experience of how wildlife and habitats can be affected we didn’t know a lot about road schemes, so we joined up with a partnership of concerned organisations to create Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST). The more we find out, the less sense the road seems to make; just take a look at some of the evidence that the BeST group has on their website here.

We have now reached the stage of a public consultation prior to the formal planning application process. I would encourage everyone, especially SWT members, to have a look at the documents and think carefully about the claims made by Shropshire Council.

Some important points:

  • The Wildlife Trusts are looking for nature based solutions to problems such as climate change, flooding, air quality, etc. An additional road is adding to the problem not a solution.
  • The cost. We don’t normally look at the finances of schemes we comment on but in this case a considerable amount of public money is involved. This includes at least £25 million of local funds which could be spent on far more sustainable initiatives across the county by reducing greenhouse gas emissions or providing green infrastructure which would be of benefit to both wildlife and people.
  • The route of the road passes through undeveloped countryside of high landscape value and is likely to have impacts on Oxon Pool, Shelton Rough, River Severn and the Old Riverbed Local Wildlife Sites; Alkmond Park Coppice (Ancient Woodland) and Hencott Pool (SSSI and RAMSAR).
Malcolm Brown

Malcolm Brown

  • Numerous species such as bats, great crested newts, hedgehogs, otters, badgers, kingfisher, barn owl, etc. could be effected and many ancient, veteran and notable trees could be lost.
  • So far we have seen no evidence that climate change impacts have been taken into account or that any assessment of measurable net gain for biodiversity has been undertaken. How can this be compatible with the council’s declaration of a climate emergency and it legal duties?
  • Finally it would appear from the council’s own figures that even with the ‘relief’ road, traffic in the future will be higher than present day values on the majority of routes. It seems unlikely that we can expect much relief and good quality national research would indicate that traffic will actually increase more as a result of the road – a phenomenon known as “induced traffic”.

So if you would like to make your views known during this consultation (and in the following planning application) please have a look through the BeST documents for inspiration and take a critical look at the Shropshire Council documents as well. If you want to use the online questionnaire and wish to avoid being seen to support the road, just give your basic details and skip to the final question where you can enter your own text. Alternatively email BeST to give your opinion.

Visit the Shropshire Council website by clicking here

Download the BEST leaflet

Would you like to learn more?

Visit our North West Road page here

Proposed NWRR route