It seems that sometimes, Highways England just can’t help themselves. What if we told you that, at a recent annual New Civil Engineer Tunnelling Awards 2017 (I know, you couldn’t make it up, could you?) Tim Jones from Highways England waxed lyrical on how “Communities have an increasingly powerful voice, particularly in key areas such as air pollution, traffic and sustainability”.
He was talking in relation to a different project Highways England has undertaken – The Lower Thames Crossing – which is designed to relieve the pressure on the existing A282 Dartford Crossing. Does any of this sound familiar? You can read all about it here. Whilst the geography of this project is obviously different (i.e. a need to cross a river), the overall principles remain the same. Four options were presented to the public – including a bridge – which was discounted, in favour of… you’ve guessed it… a bored tunnel.
Back in January, 2016, Martin Potts, also of Highways England said that the proposed tunnel “Provides double the economic benefits” of one of the other options presented. Hang on a minute. Haven’t we been told that a tunnel for us simply wasn’t even worth considering on the grounds of cost alone? He said it would help in “…Reducing congestion and improving resilience of the road network. By choosing a tunnel rather than a bridge we can minimise the effects of the new road on the environment”.
We couldn’t agree with you more, Martin. Anyway, back to you Tim…
To a captive audience at the award ceremony, he said – and brace yourselves for this – that “Our transparency will give us authenticity as we stand in harmony and parity with local communities, making them better and healthier places to live”.
Well, sorry for daring to disagree with you Tim Jones, and Highways England, but we feel that is both hypocritical and contradictory, to the point of being offensive. To say one thing to one region, and yet try to force through plans to do the complete opposite to another, is an insult to our intelligence. Is it because we’re way up here in the ‘north’? Is it because you think that air pollution and the environment and public access to green spaces don’t matter as much ‘up here’ as they do ‘down there’? You haven’t listened to what people think, plain and simple.
Harmony and parity with the local community? The only attempt at meaningful engagement by Highways England with us has been an offer to work with them to reduce the impact of building a road we don’t even want. When, exactly, was consideration given to making our community a better and healthier place to live? It certainly wasn’t done prior to presenting two, terrible options during the public consultation process. A road through Rimrose Valley will make our community a worse and unhealthier place. And that’s a fact.
So, we think it’s time to let Highways England know how we feel about these statements. Will you help us? Firstly, take a look at the full news article for yourself here:
Then, why not take a few minutes to visit our Twitter page where we’ve posted about the Highways England press release: https://twitter.com/RimroseValley
Then, will you join us in making your feelings known via Twitter? If you haven’t got a Twitter account yet, then think about setting one up. It will help enormously and it takes just five minutes (as simple as setting up a Facebook account!). Feel free to include whoever you feel is appropriate when responding or commenting on Twitter. Just a few suggestions to start with: How about @HighwaysEngland themselves? Surely they need to know what’s being said on their behalf at events like this? Or maybe Tim Jones @Jonesytims would like to hear from us? Perhaps he’s unaware of how what he said is so contradictory to what has been said to us? And why not let your friends, followers and other contacts know about your feelings too? The more we can spread the word and share the strength of feeling we have as a community, the better.
Go on, tell Highways England what you think! This is just the start…