CPRE Wiltshire, a charity which campaigns to protect Wiltshire’s countryside, has said Wiltshire Council is letting down the next generation by making ‘irreversible decisions’ that will impact the quality of life for generations to come.
The group said the details for major road scheme like such as the Chippenham distributor road and the proposed Melksham A350 bypass, were based on a pre-2018 economic strategy and made assumptions on the types and levels of growth. Which it says does not take into account the impact of the climate emergency or Covid-19.
Anne Henshaw, CPRE Wiltshire chairman, says a rethink, based on the working, shopping and travel changes brought about by the pandemic, is needed.
She said: “We owe it to our children and grandchildren not to squander the countryside around us and the recreational opportunities it provides.
“Let’s not plough on doing the same old things, like building more roads to try to address congestion, noise and air pollution.
“We should be finding more sustainable transport solutions and preserving the green spaces around us.
“We owe it to future generations to be responsible for the environmental legacy we leave behind us.
“There’s a lack of joined-up thinking at Wiltshire Council. Schemes are examined on a piecemeal basis without stopping to assess the bigger picture - the reality of the climate emergency and Covid-19.”
It has been confirmed by the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), that funding for the A350 Yarnbrook/West Ashton relief road scheme was withdrawn as work could not begin before the March 2021 deadline.
The delays were down to housebuilder Persimmons’ concerns over the financial viability of the site, according to the LEP. However, the road is still expected to go ahead without LEP funding.
Consultation is underway over options to create a potential A350 Melksham bypass.
CPRE believes the cash would be better spent improving and connecting up Wiltshire’s cycleways and public transport link.
Anne Henshaw added: “Building another road through greenfield land is not the answer.
“Both the government and Wiltshire Council have pledged to reduce emissions which should mean fewer car journeys, not more.
“Covid has shown many of our work commutes and leisure journeys are unnecessary.
“Let’s learn from that. Now is the time to take stock and reassess the type of infrastructure we need for the future. What’s needed is a step-change in thinking.”
Wiltshire Council has been approached for comment.