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.