That is the warning from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in response to Government plans for the ‘Biggest upgrade to roads in a generation’ that were announced on 1 December.
Ralph Smyth, transport campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, comments:
“National Parks from the New Forest to Northumberland are threatened by the Government’s attempt to turn back the clock and restart a massive roads programme. Road-building didn’t help the economy in the 1970s and it will have even fewer benefits now as travel patterns change and traffic levels flatline. The New Forest would be affected by plans to increase the A31 to six lanes around Ringwood, while proposals to dual the A69 around the edge of the Northumberland National Park would damage what is currently the most tranquil place in England.
Even Twyford Down, birth of the anti-roads movement in the 1990s, is not safe from the return of the bulldozer. As if it wants to twist the knife, the Department for Transport is now proposing localised widening of the M3, which would chip away at the new South Downs National Park.”
Besides the cost to our finest countryside, the financial cost of the roads plans is also set to come under scrutiny. The Government is proposing to lock the increase in roads spending into law through the Infrastructure Bill, which is due to receive its Second Reading in the Commons on 8 December.
Ralph Smyth continued:
“It is not just the swathes that could be cut through our most cherished landscapes. Rural England faces even more cuts after 2016 to buses, cycling and even road maintenance to pay for this huge roads programme. It would become harder to get around without a car, not to mention bumpier to drive one. This is truly a Black Monday for the countryside.”