The Council says that attending the meeting could lead to claims that they had “pre-determined” the forthcoming planning application (i.e. already made up their mind before they consider their own planning application). Robin Mager, planning officer at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said “Given Shropshire Council’s public statements on the north west road so far it seems a little late in the day to be worried about accusations of pre-determination! They have initiated, designed and promoted the scheme from day one so it's hard to see how they can claim that they haven't already decided that it's a good idea." In cases such as these, where a Council with an obvious bias is both the applicant and the decision maker for such a significant planning application, the matter should go to a public inquiry.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust is opposed to the road due to the damage it would cause to wildlife habitats, the inevitable new housing development in areas opened up by the road and the increased carbon footprint of construction and more vehicles.
The planned debate would have let Shropshire Council explain to us exactly how the road would make for a “greener, cleaner and more economically viable town” as Councillor Steve Davenport has been recently quoted saying in the Star.
“How can a body willing to spend a minimum of £84 million of public money refuse to take part in a well-organised debate hosted by Shrewsbury Civic Society? This smacks of hypocrisy and a Council running scared. We want to see a comprehensive plan that addresses the transport concerns of Shrewsbury's residents whilst protecting the local environment and addressing the climate emergency. The Council is giving us lots of warm words about these issues but no firm commitments” commented Mr Mager.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust is a member of Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST www.bettershrewsburytransport.org) whose other members are equally disappointed by Shropshire Council’s approach. Commenting on this astonishing decision a spokesperson from BeST said "Clearly this Council has a problem with defending one of the largest spending decisions it has ever made in a public forum and this is unacceptable and undemocratic. The Council knows that the case for the road is deeply flawed and is best not exposed to close public scrutiny".