Highways England’s A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Scheme
CPRE continues to engage despite delays due to the Coronavirus outbreak
As we anticipated in our letter to Councillor Maher of 15 March 2018, the Council lost its High Court case that Highways England acted unlawfully by declining to include the option of building a tunnel under Rimrose Valley in Highways England’s consultation relating to the choice of route to improve access to the Port of Liverpool.
Highways England has now contracted Kier Highways Ltd. to deliver the entirety of the A5036 Scheme, comprising all surveys, design and construction. However, the coronavirus lockdown has caused the completion of survey work to be paused so that the Highways England has not been able finalise and consult on how it intends to mitigate or compensate for the harms to Rimrose Valley Country Park which it concedes the proposed road will cause. Also on hold because of coronavirus is the next step of the process which, under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime, requires Highways England to apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for the Development Consent Order allowing it to build the road.
So, while we anticipate it could be several months before planning requirements are progressed, nonetheless we are now engaging with Highways England about very important issues concerning the nature of its relationship with Kier Highways.
Also significant is that the A5036 Scheme is part of the Department of Transport’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2); it was initially part of RIS1, but has now been transferred to RIS2. We warmly welcome Transport Action Network’s challenge to the government that RIS2 is unlawful because it is incompatible with climate emergency legislation (see https://transportactionnetwork.org.uk/ris2-legal-action/ ). The government has amended the Climate Change Act 2008 so that the law now requires there shall be net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-becomes-first-major-economy-to-pass-net-zero-emissions-law ).