Rimrose Valley Country Park, Labour politics and rail freight (or the lack of it) from Liverpool Docks

Rimrose Valley Country Park

How do these 3 disparate subjects fit together? Quite easily actually.

So the Port of Liverpool is expanding, that’s hardly new news but the consequences of the expansion brings with it quite a lot of bad environmental news.

You see the once well rail connected port is not so well connected to the national railway network these days. There is still one rail link with Seaforth Container Base/Liverpool 2 but just about the only rail freight moved via it are the biomass trains serving Drax Power Station. Containers have not been moved from Seaforth for quite some time now. Here’s a couple of shots of trains waiting to be loaded from the next biomass loaded ship to dock:-

So having established that little freight moves from Seaforth Docks via the national rail network and of course being aware of the expanding docks leads you pretty much to the rather obvious conclusion that the containers are being moved by road. And as the Port expands the big worry is that even more freight will move by road and that’s why Highways England want to build a new access road to the docks down the lovely Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Locals living along side the A5036 road corridor are already sick of the rumbling trucks accessing the Port and the air pollution that goes with their diesel engines. For those unsure about the A5036 it links Switch Island and the M57 and M58 Motorways to the docks.

But putting another road (in effect paralleling the A5036) right through a Country Park is hardly the solution to get locals on board with and unsurprisingly they (Rimrose Valley Friends) have said ‘no way’ and have launched a campaign to try to stop the new road ruining their Country Park. Here’s a couple of shots of their protest placards:-


So an impasse has been reached and at face value the local council – Sefton Borough – is on the right side of the argument (as witnessed via the link above to the BBC web site) as it is backing the environmental campaigners against Highways England. But as with many big infrastructure projects things are not quite how they seem as the inaction of the Council over many years, whilst the the port has been expanding, is in fact one very big reason why the residents living near the Rimrose Valley Country Park and alongside the A5036 are where they are now.

It was obvious to me whilst I was on Sefton Council that Bootle Labour did not want to discuss access to the Port, it seemed to be their Brexit issue if you use the analogy of national Labour today being unwilling to debate the most pressing public policy issue of our present times.

The consequence of this inaction was that the port expanded whilst no one locally really had an eye on how freight was going to access it, no one that is but what was then the Highways Agency and is now Highways England.

But why did Bootle Labour sit back and watch? Probably because they realised the problem was intractable and difficult to solve. Easier to let others come up with solutions and then blast those ideas than to try to help solve the issue by leading the debate. A problem ignored is a problem that comes back, as is happening now, but this admittedly difficult matter should have been addressed a long time ago but Bootle Labour hid behind the sofa.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

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

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.


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:-


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 Friends – An Update on their campaigning

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.


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.

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:-


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:-


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:-


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.