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Bypass threat to iconic Wye Valley

The approximate location of a propsed road bridge over the River Wye - virtually unchanged since Brian Hatton painted this view in 1916 The approximate location of a propsed road bridge over the River Wye - virtually unchanged since Brian Hatton painted this view in 1916

Herefordshire Council continues to promote Hereford’s western bypass. This totally new road – potentially a dual carriageway - will run through open countryside from Clehongar south of the city to Holmer in the north. It will have large adverse effects on the settings and Grade II* listed structures at both Belmont Abbey – designed by EW Pugin - and Belmont House. The un-listed parkland and gardens reputedly designed by Humphrey Repton to unify the landscape on both banks of the River Wye will be bisected. CPRE Herefordshire campaigned successfully against inappropriate housing development in part of the same picturesque landscape in 2013. Ironically Herefordshire Council are holding events during 2018 to mark the bi-centenary of Repton’s death.

Hereford floodplain meadow by Warham House
A biodiverse floodplain meadow on the banks of the Wye, west of Hereford - directly threatened by the bypass proposal

Should the proposed bypass go ahead it will export air, light and noise pollution into Herefordshire’s tranquil countryside and destroy many acres of high quality agricultural land. It would have large adverse effects on the many veteran trees recorded by the Woodland Trust and put ancient woodlands at risk. The high level bridge between Belmont and Breinton across the Wye Valley would have equally large adverse landscape and visual impacts. The public voted the Wye its favourite river in 2010. It is one of the UK’s most important waterways for nature conservation and has the highest possible European designation as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The Wye Valley has inspired artists and composers since the 18th century with its beauty, wildlife and biodiversity. Its entire length is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Hereford designated local green space Breinton  
Designated in the Breinton Neighbourhood Plan, this popular Local Green Space is in the path of the new road

CPRE Herefordshire fears that the A49 through Herefordshire is being developed as an alternative to the M50, M5 and M6 route between Wales and the North. Herefordshire’s Local Plan (2015-2031) seeks to stimulate unprecedented levels of economic growth. A minimum of 6,000 new jobs and 6,500 houses are planned for Hereford alone. However, CPRE’s 2017 report The Impact of Road Projects in England indicated that the vast majority of roads justified on economic grounds actually produced weak or no positive benefits. The same report showed that roads like the proposed bypass are closely associated with land uses reliant on car access including housing, business and retail parks.

Supporters of a Hereford bypass argue that it would reduce long distance journey times by between 5 and 8 minutes and cut congestion. CPRE’s national research casts doubt on such claims and like many earlier national and international reports shows that major new roads generally increase traffic volumes. Recent local traffic surveys confirm that three quarters of Hereford’s journeys are short to destinations within the city. Less than 3.5% are heavy goods vehicles. Herefordshire is a rural county with active farming sector including international food processing businesses in Hereford itself. There will always be agricultural traffic. A bypass of between 7.9 and 8.6km costing potentially £200m will not change this.

A preferred route will emerge later this year. CPRE Herefordshire does not want to see new roads built at great financial and environmental cost for dubious economic gains. Money would be better spent filling potholes.

The proposed bypass would export air, light and noise pollution into Herefordshire’s tranquil countryside and destroy many acres of high quality agricultural land




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