Defending Rimrose Valley Country Park
Peel Ports has created two deep sea berths capable of accommodating the largest container ships in existence in a project known as Liverpool2. The huge cranes imported from China to service these berths have transformed the Liverpool skyline and are visible for miles on the approach to Liverpool.
In consequence, there will be an increase of 2- to 3-fold in the container freight arriving in the Port of Liverpool (nowadays often referred to as Liverpool Superport) and, while the government has approved the project, there is no overall plan for creating the transport and logistical infrastructure necessary for delivering this very large increase in freight to its ultimate destinations across the North of England and even further afield. Instead, the government has commissioned Highways England (HE) to investigate how to improve local road access to the Port of Liverpool.
In response, HE published a series of newsletters commencing in October 2015 and culminating in Issue 4 announcing a consultation on its two preferred options namely,
- Option A: Upgrade Dunning’s Bridge Road, budget £16m – £41m, and
- Option B : Construct a 70 mph dual carriageway through Rimrose Valley Country Park and on through the Green Belt corridor to Brooms Cross Road, which would be dualled from its junction with the new road to its junction with Switch Island, budget £187m – £294m.
These two options were based on reports by Atkins, the international engineering consultancy, on the engineering options and the future projections of traffic generated by the enlargement of the Port of Liverpool. These reports were not in the public domain at the time of the consultation, which took place in January to February 2017, although subsequently they were disclosed to CPRE Lancashire as a result of an Environmental Information Regulations enquiry; however, they still have not been published in a way that is accessible to the general public. Consequently, the consultation, was fundamentally flawed.
In response to the consultation, HE has announced that its preferred route is Option B, although the majority of respondents were opposed to this option.
The Council has applied for and been granted leave to seek judicial review of HE’s decision to make Option B is preferred route on the sole grounds that HE failed to consider the possibility of a tunnel. In fact, the Atkins report does include an examination of the possibility of a tunnel, but the conclusion is that it is uneconomic and therefore should be dismissed. This clouds the issue, even though the Council may still not have seen the Atkins report. CPRE Lancashire believes that the narrowness of the ground of the Council’s judicial review case makes it unnecessarily insecure.
This is the background for CPRE Lancashire’s open letter to Cllr. Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, in which we set out what in our view are the most effective strategies for defending Rimrose Valley Country Park.