Henri Brocklebank who is Director of Conservation Sussex Wildlife Trust makes the following observations:-
The First Minister for Wales has cancelled the M4 bypass around Newport – an outbreak of good sense that we hope will spread to South East England.
The Newport bypass would have caused incredible damage to the Gwent Levels Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), one of the most important wetlands in Europe. It was decided that it was not in the public interest to wreck one of the country’s top wildlife assets against the dubious benefits of a bypass.
We can only hope that similar good sense is shown in Sussex. The environmental damage caused by road building is plain for all to see – loss of ancient woodland, grassland, wetland, etc, as well as pollution increase and ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The oft-quoted benefits of new roads, however, are illusory or counter-productive. Over and over again it is shown that new roads create extra traffic and more congestion followed by demands for yet more roads.
Road building is not a transport strategy – it is the process of hopefully pouring tarmac in the vague belief that something might turn out ok. There is, however, a transport hierarchy that all policymakers are supposed to follow. The first priority is to reduce the need to travel. Smart planning decisions, modern communications techniques and local access to goods and services for instance. The second priority is cycling and walking, third is public transport and fourth (only fourth) is improving the infrastructure (improving, not expanding). Road building is the failed default position showing a lack of contemporary thinking, creativity and innovation from our decision makers.