Highways England’s latest newsletter details their intention to press ahead with their preferred consultation Option B – a bypass through Rimrose Valley. It confirms that exploratory work is imminent, which we know includes the drilling of boreholes across the parkland, despite the Judicial Review being in progress.
In response, Stuart Bennett of Rimrose Valley Friends said:
“This latest communication is simply more of the same from Highways England. They are telling us how it is and taking absolutely no notice of either the communities around Rimrose Valley, or even our legal system. Tellingly, the vast majority of the newsletter is spent defending the decision not to include a tunnel as part of the public consultation process, claiming it was fully explored, but ruled out. Yet we know that it is this very decision which has resulted in a Judicial Review being granted. The High Court obviously feels differently.
“It is particularly disappointing, but not at all surprising, to read their scaremongering in relation to a tunnel option. It ‘might’ involve compulsory purchases, ventilation shafts across Rimrose Valley and waste material being transported to landfill. It’s interesting that only now, when calls for alternatives are getting louder and louder, have they felt compelled to share these disturbing ‘facts’, painting a potential nightmare scenario of a tunnel. Surely the consultation process was the right time to disclose these?
“They continue to repeat their line that there is simply no benefit to delivering a more expensive option. The truth is that the very real benefits of clean air, health and wellbeing, green space and the protection of the environment simply don’t register with Highways England. ‘Value for money’ is far more important than delivering a solution that is sympathetic to those it will most affect.
“We believe that much of this newsletter is a reaction to the growing opposition to their plans. Highways England is desperately trying to defend its decision. It should be seen for what it is: A sloppy, lecturing, knee jerk reaction from a taxpayer-funded organisation that should know better. Highways England act on behalf of the UK Government. We suggest they spend more time reading the Government’s commitment to improving air quality in their 25 year Environment Plan than producing what amounts to no more than propaganda. The section on ‘How to object’ is perhaps the only useful piece of information in the whole document.
“We are urging everyone who cares about Rimrose Valley to be ready to come and demonstrate if and when Highways England invades our valley. It needs to know that we will not give up opposing this road, nor accept a cheap and quick option at the expense of the health of our children and all those who live nearby. We will let people know about the timing of any protests as soon as we know more.”