Access to the Port of Liverpool – 15 years on from Strategic Access Study – Time to reassess due to Climate Crisis

I was recently asked to assist a campaigner who is a part of the fight against Highways England’s plan to build a new road right through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ask was for me to help with obtaining a copy of a 2004 report on the options for transport access to the Port of Liverpool.

Rimrose Valley Country Park on a lovely Sunday morning. A Lone cyclist can be seen in the distance.

Firstly, I had to obtain a copy of the report and with a little help that was achieved.

The report is titled ‘PORT OF LIVERPOOL STRATEGIC TRANSPORT ACCESS STUDY Phase 3 Final Report’. It looked at 3 options for providing improved access to the Port of Liverpool and it comes down on the side of putting a new road through the Rimrose Valley. This is of course the option now being pursued by Highways England and which is causing so much controversy and objections.

I think it fair to say that I’m a big supporter of Rimrose Valley Country Park and love cycling through it, so it could be said that my opinions are somewhat biased in favour of the campaign group Rimrose Valley Friends who are leading the fight against the new road. In other words I’m not claiming that this piece is of an independent nature.

The report summarises the work undertaken by a team of consultants, lead by FaberMaunsell, for the study’s steering group comprising: • Sefton Borough Council; • Liverpool City Council; • Highways Agency (now Highways England); • Strategic Rail Authority; • Merseytravel; and • Atlantic Gateway.

Three strategies emerged from this work:

• Strategy 1 (Modal Transfer, Mitigation And Management) – to maximise the benefits and improvements where major highway investment is considered either unacceptable or undeliverable. This strategy combines rail and public passenger transport initiatives with traffic management, environmental mitigation and policy and enforcement but no significant investment in highway infrastructure which would generate additional capacity.

• Strategy 2 (Highway – A5036(T) On Line Improvements) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with link and junction improvements principally on the A5036 (T) to improve capacity within the corridor and therefore reduce delay and congestion.

• Strategy 3 (Major Highway – Rimrose Valley) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with the construction of a new road through the Rimrose Valley from Switch Island to the Princess Way/Bridge Road roundabout to relieve the existing key routes of a significant proportion of the port-bound traffic.

Clearly, there’s a danger of reading a 15 year old report and thinking that all it looked at then (agree with its conclusions or not) is just as relevant now. The big issue is of course the climate change/crisis we are facing and the need to restrict/cease use of petrol and diesel engined vehicles. This is now a matter of public policy, as opposed it being an issue within scientific and environmental community as it was back in the early 2000’s. For me this very real green issue is, without considering any other matter, a clear reason to re-examine what the options should be to improve access to the Port of Liverpool. And of course the recent delay in constructing the new road, caused by the legal action taken to stop it, has created a time frame which could be used to conduct a reassessment, so there really is no excuse for pursuing a project that in effect predates our climate crisis.

All walking and cycling destinations from the main cycle path in the Country Park.

I don’t think I learned a great deal more than I knew already from re-reading the report (with 15 years between reads) but all the same it was useful to reacquaint myself with the detail. I hope the report is of use to the Rimrose Valley Friends in their campaign work.

I had another lovely cycle ride through Rimrose Valley on the 4th August.

2 thoughts on “Access to the Port of Liverpool – 15 years on from Strategic Access Study – Time to reassess due to Climate Crisis

  1. Bob Jungels says:

    Blocking the construction of a new road through Rimrose Valley Park based purely on the Climate Change argument is completely wrong, and here’s why.

    All political parties agree we need to aim for carbon zero by 2050. The quick and easy wins for present and future governments between now and then (all over the world) is to boost sales of electric cars and put pressure on freight companies to convert to electric. By 2050, if most cars, vans, buses, taxis and trucks aren’t electrically powered, I’d be very surprised. The pressure will only grow from the green lobbyists, and rightly so, I’m with them as much as you.

    The reason therefore why the Climate Change argument falls flat on its arse is because emissions from vehicles will be all but be eradicated by 2050, save for the odd old vintage car, or motorbikes perhaps. There will be stragglers.
    If the government commits to planting thousands more trees per year (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47541491), we can seriously redress our balance without forcing everyone out of their cars and onto trains, buses or bikes.

    This is why I believe the fundamental argument against Rimrose Bypass is flawed and dangerous, and needs serious reconsideration.

    As you probably know by now, I am dead set against this proposal and would hate to see it go ahead. And this is why I believe the argument against it needs to be, quite simply, around the bigger picture of Investing in People and Places.

    Investing in this project flies in the face of local people and destroys a local place of natural interest/recreation/leisure. To invest in a new road here only serves to destroy the fabric of our communities through the continued investment in transport projects that only help boost the Power and Domination of the Car, and help further divide people and places by creating a huge severance down the middle of a well-loved, well-used park.

    The project on its own isn’t going to tear the nation in two, and it could be reasonably argued that a well-considered scheme that does its best to mitigate the impacts of the road and creates new adjoining cycle lanes/bridges over it.

    But there is a much more wider point about this scheme being yet another example of flawed, short-sighted transport investment that tramples over the interests of local communities, whilst at the same time, ripping a hole (physically and emotionally) through the biggest park in South Sefton – a predominantly urban and economically deprived area that doesn’t need any further trampling on by middle-class government advisers who have probably never visited the area and/or don’t know a thing about it, the people, or the place as a whole.

    That’s why my argument – in line with my manifesto – is all about the investment in (and protection of) People and Places.

    Investment in trains, trams, buses and cycle/walking infrastructure is direct investment in People and Place. This has to be the starting point for any transport infrastructure investment project. Not the economy. Not the motorist.

    Everyone is included in this investment philosophy. No-one is left behind.

    Public transport brings the public together, restores faith in the state, and allows for social mobility – removing barriers to people who currently are in transport poverty.

    Road-building keeps people divided in their own little metal boxes, keeps everyone hooked on oil, keeps pressure on the government to keep oil prices low, and slaps everyone in the face who currently cannot (or chooses not to) drive. This is before I even bring in all the well-versed negative impacts of cars (congestion, pollution, loss of wildlife, obesity, road safety, etc).

    I do hope the Friends of Rimrose can get sight of this article because I believe it’s an important argument to bear in mind in their fight to block the scheme.

    It would be churlish to think the scheme will be blocked solely on the grounds of Climate Change. It is one crucial reason to block it – yes, I agree. But it is also just one of many effects from the cause of investing in the economy over investing in society.

    Power to the People!

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