Could Heathrow Climate Change victory cause a Rimrose rethink?

Friends of the Earth has the article on its website – see link below

friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/heathrow-third-runway-uk-government-actions-ruled-illegal

Rimrose Valley Country Park.

The FotE court victory is very welcome news indeed but it immediately got me thinking about the potential knock-on effects of the ruling for other transport projects in the pipeline which need to be rethought because of the Climate Emergency that has been declared.

Unsurprisingly my thoughts have turned to the Highways England plan to build a road right down the Rimrose Valley Country Park to create better freight access to the Port of Liverpool and I’m sure I’m not the only one having such thoughts.

It also makes you realise that Sefton Council’s Judicial Review of Highways England’s Port of Liverpool Access Road was utterly on the wrong grounds. If they’d made the challenge on basis of climate change as opposed to wanting a road tunnel they could well have won!

Climate Change & the Port of Liverpool

Daughter Jen and I attended a public meeting in Waterloo yesterday evening at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre organised by Friends of the Earth. The subject of the meeting and debate was The Port of Liverpool & The Climate Crisis.

The meeting took the form of a panel of speakers making initial statements and then them taking questions which had been submitted prior to the meeting, although there was also some interaction with the audience of I would guess @150 people.

(The acoustics were not great in the room so I may have missed some points that were made)

The panel was Paulette Lappin (Sefton Councillor for Ford Ward & Cabinet Member – Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services), Stu from Save Rimrose Valley Campaign, Bill Esterson MP for Sefton Central, a representative of the Church Road & District Residents Assn, Craig from Friends of the Earth and the event was hosted/chaired by Dominic Browne, editor of Highways Magazine/ Transport Network.

Cllr. Lappin raised concerns about poor air quality associated with the area around the Port. She also said that Sefton Council was still pressing for a road tunnel to access it.

Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Stu from Save Rimrose Valley Campaign was disappointed that Peel Ports & Highways England were not at the event.

Bill Esterson MP said he was against both a new road down the Rimrose Valley or the alternative Highways England solution of upgrading the A5036/Church Road. He wanted a tunnel but but not a road tunnel, a rail tunnel.

The Church Road & District speaker (my apols I did not catch his name) said his group represented concerned residents from Millers Bridge to Switch Island. He also said his group would be taking Sefton Council to court for its failings. He wants digital air pollution monitoring at all the schools around the A5036 corridor.

Craig the FofTE speaker said a Health Assessment for the proposed new road down the Rimrose Valley needs to be made. He also called for Highways England to be scrapped in favour of sustainable transport solutions. He was clearly incredulous that the Port had been expanded and then the transport links to it were being considered.

Other comments – Why was Steve Rotherham the Metro Mayor not at the event? – The response from some was that he was simply a figurehead but with little power. FofTE called on Rotherham to come out clearly against the 2 road schemes for accessing the Port.

Why did Sefton Council not apply for government money (in 2018?) to enable it to conduct detailed air monitoring? – This was clearly a big issue between the Church Road & District Group and Sefton Council, indeed it led to the host saying he was glad the two of them were at different ends of the table.

What had Merseytravel been doing as the Transport Committee for the City Region? Had they been assisting Highways England?

Rebecca Hanson (from the audience) called for the only digital monitor in the Port vicinity to be put on-line so that anyone could access it for real time air pollution information. My understanding is that the Sefton Cabinet Member undertook to try to get this done.

Has a detailed assessment been undertaken for the 3rd alternative i.e. a rail tunnel? The MP thought not.

Reference made to early reports and investigations via Sefton Council and the Port Access Group it chaired, going back to 2003, but of course the Climate Crisis had not been the massive issue then that it is now.

A chap from the audience asked about the long talked of HGV parking-up facility for the Port and where this had got to – no one seemed to know the answer to this.

My thoughts on the event –

Why hadn’t Sefton Council sent a councillor along who was a member of the Port Access Steering Group which it had chaired from the outset? Cllr. Lappin said she had not been a member of it.

Why was the Sefton Central MP there when the vast majority of issues are actually within the Bootle Constituency?

What did the event achieve? Well it clearly led to information sharing amongst those who attended it but whether it will have contributed to changing of minds in government or elsewhere is a different matter. I got the impression that all of us at the event were opposed to what Highways England is proposing (either road scheme) so there’s a danger we were talking to ourselves and not really exerting that influence that is so clearly needed on the real decision makers.

If I have anything wrong here please let me know and I will correct. As I said the acoustics were not great.

Rimrose Valley – What does Sefton Council want? And that could well be a very different answer to what it says it wants!

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/rvf-road-action-group-weekly-update/

The latest news is on the Rimrose Valley Friends Web site – see link above

Yes at face value Labour-led Sefton Council is upset over the plan by Highways England to build a new road right through the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park but just hang on a minute how did we get to this point and what has Sefton Council actually done?

Firstly, the cart was put before the horse in that the new River Berth was constructed before the necessary improved freight transport access to it had been in any way determined. Sefton Council knew this as it was involved in planning process for the new dock.

That meant that the organisation that which we elect councillors to (Sefton Council) was well positioned to be able to see what was going to happen and to seek to influence the outcomes. So what has Sefton Council been doing to plan for and more importantly influence the freight transport access issues?

Yes we know that Labour Sefton Councillors want the new road but for it to be in a tunnel. They backed that solution, which as far as I know has never been fully investigated and was not a part of the consultation process recently conducted by Highways England. So a road tunnel was never going to be an outcome of that consultation now was it? Then of course when a tunnel was not selected as the preferred solution, which of course it was never going to be, the Labour Party shouted foul we only want a tunnel and just for good measure they added that it was rejected on cost grounds and that if it had been a highway issue ‘down south’ a tunnel would, despite the cost, have been the solution, or similar words to that effect.

So Labour have the perfect get out – they hide behind the sofa whilst the freight access project is worked up by Highways England, they call for/back a solution which was never seriously on Highways England agenda then they complain when that their preferred solution (the tunnel) is not selected!

What strikes me is that Bootle Labour have not been acting as community leaders here but more as community scapegoaters. As Labour has been running Sefton Council for some years now………. you get my drift.

And the real evidence, or lack of it, is in what Labour have done rather than what they have said. Where was their community-wide high-profile campaign to get Highways England to seriously consider a road tunnel solution?

So whatever Labour-led Sefton Council now says that it wants, which may well be what many folk want to hear, what they have done and indeed not done in the lead up to this situation is actually far more relevant.

My guess is that Labour-led Sefton council has let this situation arise because it suited its purpose. I would further suggest that it knew only too well what the likely outcome of the Highways England consultation process would be.

Sefton Council under Labour is part ofthe problem here not part of the solution to the problem!

Rimrose Valley Country Park to have dual carriageway road built through it!

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/important-statement-road-to-be-built-through-rimrose-valley/

Truly horrifying news for the environment – see link above to the Rimrose Valley Friends web site which has the story as it looks today.

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

Time for Sefton Council to come out from behind its sofa and fight this plan. For too long Sefton has acted as though it was all but disinterested in the matter. Apart from jumping on a band wagon to suggest the new road be put in a tunnel as an alternative to wrecking the Rimrose Valley Country Park, what else has Sefton done?

And here’s a petition to sign if you would be so kind:-

www.change.org/p/secretary-of-state-for-transport-stop-the-dual-carriageway-through-rimrose-valley?utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_signer_receipt&utm_campaign=triggered&j=124054&sfmc_sub=37791448&l=32_HTML&u=24084311&mid=7233052&jb=231344