Government announces £32.7 million for A6-M1 link road
Having long campaigned against the link road, CPRE Bedfordshire is extremely disappointed by the news.
With the Prime Minster’s recent conference speech which pledged to protect green spaces, and with COP26 on the horizon, the government’s announcement would appear to fly in the face of their own climate pledges.
Below we round up CPRE Bedfordshire’s objections to the scheme.
Impact on nature and the countryside
Ancient Woodland and SSSIs
The road will put many vulnerable habitats at risk – from ancient woodlands to chalk aquifers. Green links between Sundon and George woods will be severed and the biodiversity of the area put at risk.
Access to the countryside
Close to Luton, the area provides a place for many people to exercise and enjoy nature and the countryside. There are many public footpaths and both the Icknield Way and the John Bunyan Trail cross through. This valuable ‘green lung’ will be adversely impacted by a major new road.
Landscape – AONB
The 2019 Glover Review recommended that the Chilterns AONB be designated a National Park. The road would have a serious impact on the overall landscape and the character of the area.
A new road will lead to more traffic, increased air pollution and harmful emissions. This is bad for us, bad for wildlife along the route and bad for the climate. This is the time for an emphasis on sustainable transport options rather than more roads.
The plans will lead to increased noise and light pollution in the area. The Chilterns AONB should be protected as a tranquil place for people and wildlife.
Economic, political and democratic impact
The total cost of building and maintaining the road, including required environmental mitigations is unclear. The cost has been estimated at over £60 million; equating to at least £22.2 million per mile over the 2.7 mile route.
CPRE Bedfordshire have consistently expressed concerns about the lack of thorough public consultation on the plans. The need for the road has been assumed by Central Bedfordshire Council rather than properly assessed; including the potential environmental impact.
In July 2019 Central Bedfordshire Council committed to prioritise responding to climate change with the creation of a Climate Change Plan. The detrimental environmental impact of the planned road also goes against SEMLEPs Sustainability Policy.
The need for economic recovery post COVID-19 has been widely welcomed as a chance to build a low carbon economy. Road building is out of step with this aspiration.
Read more from CPRE Bedfordshire on this story