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Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Shrewsbury North West Relief Road plans to go before Shropshire Council’s Northern planning committee today

Shropshire Council’s Northern planning committee is set to meet today to consider the planning application for the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road.

A view of the proposed North West Relief Road viaduct in Shrewsbury
A view of the proposed North West Relief Road in Shrewsbury

The meeting will be held at Shirehall in Shrewsbury, starting at 2pm and will be available to watch live via the council’s YouTube channel.

If approved the road would link the northern and western parts of Shrewsbury at Battlefield and Churncote.

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The road would mean a peak-time journey from A5 Churncote to A49 Battlefield would take about six minutes, instead of about 20 minutes through the town centre or 15 minutes on the current A5 bypass.

The costs of building the road would be 100% funded by the government with the Final Business Case determining the total funding.

Concern over errors in Planning Officer’s report

Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST) has issued a stinging critique of Shropshire Council’s Planning Officer’s report on the North West Relief Road, flagging up a litany of ‘school boy errors, inaccuracies, and missing data’ in the key document that the planning committee will use to decide on the road’s fate.

In a ten page open letter – sent to the committee and published online – the campaign group lays out in forensic detail a series of factual errors and problems in the report, warning councillors on the Northern Planning Committee that it ‘fails to present the information about many important aspects to you accurately and with the requisite standard of objectivity.’

Mike Streetly from BeST says: “The Officer’s Report is a total bodge job, full of omissions and inaccuracies. It leaves the council wide open to a legal challenge. The mad rush to get this project through planning before the blank cheque being offered by the Department for Transport vanishes, has clearly affected quality control at Shirehall. Section 7.7 is missing – whenever I see a whole section of a report has been deleted it speaks to me of hasty last minute editing.

“This report should give an objective overview of the application which allows councillors on the planning committee to make a balanced judgement. But it fails spectacularly, it looks like the internal barrier between Shropshire Council as the developer and Shropshire Council as Local Planning Authority has been well and truly blown out of the water.

“Shropshire residents should be very, very worried, especially given the huge risk to our drinking water supply.”

Environmental concerns

Ahead of today’s planning meeting Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury will call on Shropshire Council to ‘Stop The Shropshire Chainsaw Massacre’ in a protest outside Shirehall as the North West Relief Road goes to planning on Halloween. 

The protest, which will be held outside the Northern Planning Committee meeting at Shirehall, will feature a ‘chainsaw maniac’ in Halloween costume attacking the iconic 550 year old Darwin Oak. 

Protesters will also hand out bottles of contaminated ‘Relief Road Water’ to councillors as they enter the meeting to highlight the risk the road poses to Shrewsbury’s drinking water supply.

Jamie Russell from Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury says: “The North West Relief Road is an environmentally-destructive nightmare, so it’s fitting the planning meeting is on Halloween. If this road gets the go ahead, Shropshire Tories will be committing an unforgivable Shropshire chainsaw massacre. 

“We will lose 4km of biodiverse hedgerows; over ten hectares of vital agricultural land; and over a thousand trees including several “irreplaceable” veterans like the 550 year old Darwin Oak. This is the tree that the world’s most famous naturalist, Charles Darwin, sat under as a young man. There is no way to justify this in the midst of a climate and ecological emergency. Darwin must be spinning in his grave.”

Environmental concerns over the road plans have seen multiple organisations formally object to the NWRR including the Woodland Trust, Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth, the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, and even the council’s own Ecology and Tree Teams.

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