John Knight's August 2020 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express

25 August 2020

As Macclesfield, Poynton and Disley folk know well, the Green Party has campaigned for many years against the folly of major roadbuilding.  We and others have pointed out the fact - long-understood by transport planners - that bypasses offer no long-term solution to the problems of traffic congestion.  After a few years, traffic on the original road returns to its previous levels, while the bypass encourages many more car journeys than before.  Where the bypass ends, traffic becomes much worse. 

Yet other political parties ignore the facts and continue to promote roadbuilding.  Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat-led councils together forced through the Airport Link Road which has devastated swathes of the Ladybrook/Norbury Brook Valley.  The resulting traffic though Disley has got so bad that a further bypass, tunnelling under Lyme Park, is now being seriously suggested.  Labour-led Cheshire East Council - cheered on by our Conservative MP - is now charging ahead with plans to build yet another bypass through Poynton and Adlington greenbelt, to bring even more road traffic into Macclesfield. 

But the truth is now out.  It has been revealed that the Department for Transport has systematically underplayed the extent that major roadbuilding projects generate climate-changing carbon dioxide, while overstating the economic benefits.  While CO2 emissions need to be reduced by 167 million tonnes in order to combat climate change, a recent consultants’ report has forecast that the government’s roads programme will actually lead to an increase of about 20 megatonnes. 

While the roadbuilding programme assumes that traffic will increase, even the government’s Transport Secretary says we should be driving less. 

The “new regime” at Cheshire East Council seems intent on repeating the mistakes of the old.  Continuing the roadbuilding programme will cause further degradation to the natural environment, worsening air quality and road safety, while benefitting no-one but big construction corporations.

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