Rimrose Valley Country Park – An idyllic oasis

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

With the potential threat of a road being driven straight through this country park I thought it was time to have a really good look at it. I had been previously but not for any length of time. I was not to be disappointed.

I set off on my cycle from our Lydiate home last Saturday morning quite early on a bright and sunny day. Joining the foot and cycle paths that lead into the County Park at Edge Lane I found my way via this footpath network through into what is a linear open space. It is in fact surrounded by the built up areas of Crosby, Netherton, Thornton and Litherland and ends in Seaforth half a mile from the Container Terminal.

Rimrose in the foreground and its threat in the background

You can see why Highways England have been eyeing up the land to get a new road through to the docks but what on earth will it do to this lovely oasis if they get the go ahead? I remain very much opposed to that plan but we will find out very soon what is going to happen.

What I found early on a Saturday morning was friendly dog walkers, fellow cyclists and a lovely ride through urban countryside. What’s more a very tame squirrel joined me for 30 yards or more running alongside my bike. I assume he was wondering if I had some food.

The Seaforth end of the Country Park which joins the A5036 Princess Way

Surely there can be little, if any, doubt that a road driven through the Rimrose Valley can only have negative consequences for our environment.

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Highways England’s announcement delayed.

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

My understanding was that Highways England (previously known as the Highways Agency) were due to announce their preferred solution to increasing the capacity of the A5036 otherwise known as Dunningsbridge Road/ Church Road in Netherton on 8th August.

Of course the big fear amongst environmental campaigners is that they will plump to build a new road through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ‘need’ for the increased road capacity is due to the Liverpool 2 River Berth being constructed at Seaforth by Peel Ports, a subject I have posted about many times before.

But news reached me yesterday via an e-mail from Rimrose Valley Friends, who are trying to protect the Country Park, that the announcement has been delayed until September. We are told that this follows a Highways England meeting with Mersey Mayor Steve Rotherham.

The significance of the delay/deferment is not presently known.

Here’s a couple of links to pages on the Rimrose Valley Friends web site about the expected announcement:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-due-080817/#

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-delayed/

Rimrose Valley Friends – An Update on their campaigning

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/huge-thanks-to-our-leaflet-volunteers-15000-homes-covered/

Always happy to give publicity to Rimrose Valley Friends and their campaigns – have a look at the link above which takes you to their web site.

Port of Liverpool Access – Lydiate Parish Council’s view

We had a discussion at our January meeting about the Highways England consultation that is presently ongoing. I am pleased to say we came down on the environmental agenda rather than following Highways England on their let’s build yet more new roads plan.

Lydiate

To recap an issue I have covered on this blog site many times, Highways England want to either build a new road right down the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park and or expand the road capacity of the present A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road. This is to service the new Liverpool 2 river berth that can take huge new container ships.

Peel's cranes at Liverpool 2's deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Whilst the issue does not impact on Lydiate residents directly many of them do travel the A5036 to get to work etc. every day and air pollution issues along the route are a major concern. To increase the capacity of that road would in all probability increase the pollution. Of course building a new road down the Rimrose Valley would also increase air pollution from diesel engined HGV’s.

But what’s the alternative? Well to me it is all too clear, increase and the capacity of the present rail link to the docks to its maximum and develop new rail links. Also, electrify the rail lines so that diesel powered locomotives are not used. In essence this was the line adopted by Lydiate Parish Council which also gave it’s support to the transshipment of containers along the Manchester Ship Canal.

A5036/Rimrose Valley – formal road consultation about to start

Peel's cranes at Liverpool 2's deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Here’s what Highways England are up to over the highly contentious project to provide increased road capacity to Liverpool 2/Seaforth Docks – see link to and extract from the Highways England web site below:-

roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a5036-port-of-liverpool-access/

Progress report

We have been working hard to complete our economic and environmental assessments.

We have used our findings from these assessments, as well as the feedback received during the public awareness exhibitions in February 2016, to develop the options which we will consult on shortly.

The options are:

option A – upgrading the existing A5036 road with junction improvements
option B – a new dual carriageway bypass through the Rimrose Valley

What next?

We will be launching the 6 week public consultation on the shortlisted options in January 2017. During the consultation period, we’d like to hear your views on the options. The consultation will help us further refine options and select the best performing option to take forward to the next stage of design. This will be your opportunity to tell us what you think of the proposals, what works, what concerns you may have, and give us any local or specialist knowledge.

Links to the consultation documents, as well as details explaining how to respond, will be available here from 16 January 2017.

Once the consultation has closed in February 2017, we will analyse all responses and compile them into a consultation report summarising the feedback received. We will then refine the option designs, incorporating the comments provided where practicable and complete our assessment work.

We will then announce the preferred route option for the A5036 Port of Liverpool Access scheme in spring 2017.

This of course follows hot on the heels of SCAR (Sefton Communities Against Roadbuilding) being launched. My recent posting refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/12/09/launch-of-scar-to-fight-road-building-plans-to-access-port-of-liverpool/

I don’t think there are surprises in the latest Highways England announcement but it is clearly going to ratchet up community concerns in Litherland, Netherton and Seaforth about this most controversial of issues.

Port of Liverpool – Cranes V The environment? – And the launch of SCAR

Now we all want more jobs to be created in Sefton (except senior Civil Service leaders who are withdrawing them in large numbers from the Borough) and indeed across Merseyside but when those jobs come at a price of potentially compromising our environment the issue clearly needs more thought.

How can these massive cranes and a Country Park be linked?

Peel's cranes at Liverpool 2's deep water river berth for colossal sized container ships, Seaforth.

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized container ships, Seaforth.

The bottom tip of Rimrose Valley Country Park gets to within half a mile of Seaforth docks.

The bottom tip of Rimrose Valley Country Park gets to within half a mile of Seaforth docks.

They are linked because Highways England is presently proposing that a new road be built down the middle of the Country Park to provide greater highway capacity to the newly enlarged docks. And of course thereby is the huge dilemma.

Rimrose Valley Country Park

Rimrose Valley Country Park

On the one hand we want the jobs on the other we want to protect our environment. It seems at this location we can’t have both. The ‘green’ issues are not just ripping up a country park to put a road through it but human health matters such as HGV diesel pollution and noise too. Life expectancy in parts of the Bootle Constituency is not good compared with other parts of the Borough of Sefton and I am willing to bet that air pollution plays into such concerns. The present A5036 already has HGV’s thundering up and down it day and night as they access the Port of Liverpool from the end of the M57 & M58 Motorways at Switch Island. Bigger port = more HGV’s = greater risk of pollution.

It seems to be a given that if the port becomes more successful then the consequence is more freight moving to and from it via the A5036 corridor and possibly by rail. Adding in another road down the Rimrose Valley can only lead to a greater chance of increased air pollution.

Leeds Liverpool Canal through Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Leeds Liverpool Canal through Rimrose Valley Country Park.

And what of the railway to the docks? Will it be improved and electrified to be able to carry more freight? Well it seems not at present and that has to be a big worry as an electrified railway could take freight to and from the docks with little or no pollution locally.

I have been very critical of Sefton Council’s sit back and watch approach to this issue in recent years and now we have the ludicrous situation where the docks have been built but there are no improved transport facilities to service it.

So what’s going to solve the A5036 transport capacity crisis that is looming? How is pollution from HGV’s going to be managed and indeed reduced as surely it has to be? Will a radical rail solution be brought forward? Or will Highways England build their new road and to hell with the environmental consequences?

There is already a group called Rimrose Valley Friends who campaign for the upkeep and future of this country park and later this month a new sister/associated organisation is being launched called SCAR – Sefton Communities Against Road Building. You can see some initial information about it via the link below:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/upcoming-anti-roadbuilding-campaign-group-scar-sefton-communities-against-roadbuilding/

I think it’s fair to say that things are hotting up in the communities near to Liverpool 2 and that sit alongside the A5036 and the Rimrose Valley Country Park.