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Railwatch 086 - November 2000

Railwatch - The Sidings

Green belt invaded by road

By Chris Crean

chrisc@foe.co.uk

The Birmingham Northern "Relief" Road, the motorway John Prescott said wouldn't work and Labour promised they would never build, has been given the final go-ahead six years late by the Government.

Midlands Expressway Limited has persuaded banks and construction companies to back them in smashing through 27 miles of green belt. Bank of America and Abbey National will pay for this environmental destruction and CAMBBA (Costain, Alfred MacAlpine, Balfour Beatty and AMEC) will build it.

West Midlands Friends of the Earth and the Alliance Against the Birmingham Northern Relief Road say this is disastrous for the environment and for motorists alike. They point out that:

  • BNRR will not reduce congestion significantly on any motorway in the West Midlands according to the Government's own figures
  • BNRR will add to congestion on all the motorways it links into
  • BNRR will involve six lanes of motorway smashing through 27 miles of protected Green Belt. There are already follow-on proposals for industrial development along its route

Hazel Barnes of the Alliance Against the BNRR said: "This is a black day for people who live along the BNRR route."

Gerald Kells of West Midlands Friends of the Earth said: "New Labour claimed they'd learnt that building endless motorways was a Tory mistake and they had a new transport policy which would end this kind of eco-destruction for short-term gains. The Birmingham Northern Relief Road shows they haven't learnt their lesson. "

Work will start later this year and the road is expected to open in 2004.

This news may cast doubt on the value of all the Government's corridor studies which are supposed to find other ways than road building to solve congestion problems.

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