Road-building does not deliver

Bexhill Observer letters
Bexhill Observer letters

From: Andrea Needham, Milward Road, Hastings

According to last week’s Observer (‘Hastings MP and minister visit Queensway Gateway road site’, 31 March), Amber Rudd has visited the site of the Queensway Gateway road and declared that ‘this road will lead to reduced congestion and quicker journey times for local residents, and it will help to make our area even more attractive for investment’.

Unfortunately for Ms Rudd, the extensive research which has been done into the supposed benefits of road-building suggests very strongly that this road – like so many – will not deliver on the promises made for it.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England put out a report (‘The End of the Road?’) only two weeks ago which looked at no fewer than 86 completed road schemes around the country and came to the same conclusion that many previous such studies have reached: that ‘road-building is failing to provide the congestion relief and economic boost promised, while devastating the environment’.

The CPRE study found that most new road schemes led to large increases in traffic, far above any background increase, as people made journeys they would not have made had the new road not been built.

Consequently, decreases 
in journey times were negligible.

Many road schemes – as in the case of the Queensway Gateway – had been justified by their claimed benefits to the local economy, but CPRE found that ‘just one in five demonstrated any evidence at all of economic benefit, and that was weak’.

Finally, the report found that 80 per cent of the new roads studied damaged the surrounding environment, with damage often being ‘permanent and significant’.

This is certainly the case with the Queensway Gateway road, which is being built right across the middle of the Hollington Valley Local Wildlife Site, described in its designation report as ‘invaluable and irreplaceable.’

Those who knew this place before construction started will remember a place of great beauty, a tranquil oasis in the midst of busy roads.

All that is gone now, for the sake of a road which will almost certainly not live up to the claims made for it by Amber Rudd, Hastings Borough Council and SeaChange Sussex.

And while those who opposed this road and the link road are often shouted down by those who prefer concrete to countryside, the facts are clearly on our side: new roads do not deliver on the claims made for them.

We have lost Combe Haven, we have lost Hollington Valley, and we are soon to lose more countryside to the North Bexhill Access Road.

At a time of catastrophic climate change and loss of biodiversity, building new roads is utterly irresponsible and wrong.

I hope before Amber Rudd promotes the next new road, she takes a few minutes to look at the facts.

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