Port of Liverpool – The two road only options on the table

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/port-traffic-route-headache-option-12556835

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

This is a matter which I have been blogging about for a long time now and I still feel angry about it.

A classic cart before the horse situation if ever I saw one. The new Liverpool 2 River Berth catering for massive Post Panamax container ships is planned, constructed and completed before any serious thought is given as to how the increased freight is going to get to and from it. You really could not make this up as a planning absurdity but that’s pretty much what has happened.

Liverpool 2's massive new container cranes

Liverpool 2’s massive new container cranes

The A5036 route that links the Port of Liverpool at Seaforth with the motorway network at Switch Island is presently the only/major corridor for freight moving to and from the Port. It’s congested, at busy times the capacity is insufficient to cope with the traffic wanting to use it and there are already big concerns about air pollution from the diesel powered HGV’s that thunder up and down it. What’s more the A5036 is hemmed in by residential areas along significant parts of it.

As I have said before there are two options on the table from Highways England, either increase the capacity of the A5036 or build a new road right down the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park! As if either option is credible and the plans seem to pit residents who live around the A5036 against residents who live either side of the Rimrose Valley.

And what has Sefton Council been doing? And where’s on earth is Network Rail? Between the two of them the best you can say is hiding behind the sofa!

Why has making new rail connections with the port seemingly been forgotten? Where’s the community leadership from Sefton Council?

This is indeed a dogs breakfast of a mess and the people left to pick up the pieces (and the air pollution) are the residents living in Netherton, Litherland, Crosby and Seaforth.

The present consultation on a road only solution needs to be brought to an end and only reconsidered when every possible rail freight possibility has been put in place.

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.

Launch of SCAR to fight road building plans to access Port of Liverpool

The Sefton Communities Against Roadbuilding (SCAR) Campaign

www.scar.network/

I mentioned the impending launch of this new web site and organisation not so long ago and here it is – see link above.

There are numerous postings on this blog site about the consequences of the building of the new (Post Panamax)Liverpool 2 Dock. The most recent is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/11/13/port-of-liverpool-cranes-v-the-environment-and-the-launch-of-scar/

This is probably the greatest environmental challenge facing the Borough of Sefton right now. As I have said many times before the cart has been constructed before anyone knew where a horse could be found to pull it. In this case the new dock has been built but the transport infrastructure to support it is only being considered now!

Sefton Council has buried its head hoping no one will notice that they should have been leading the public debate. Labour have jumped on a lets build a tunnel band wagon knowing that such a solution is not even on the drawing board of Highways England. But that’s a smoke screen to make it look to the casual observer as though they are doing something, at least that’s what Labour seems to be hoping.

This new residents only group (and that’s interesting in itself i.e. no Bootle councillors) is the voice of communities in Netherton and Litherland who are sick of being ignored. I wish them luck.

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.