Our response to the statutory consultation
We recognise the need to solve the ongoing problems caused by the A417 'Missing Link' and we are pleased to see that Highways England has made some changes to its proposed road scheme. However, there is more work to be done if Highways England is to deliver the landscape-led solution that this special environment deserves.
The National Trust responds to today’s A417 ‘Missing Link’ Statutory Consultation announcement
27 September 2019
A spokesperson for the National Trust said:
'Crickley Hill is a delicate, much-loved and well-used landscape of international significance within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB). It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with an Iron-Age hill fort (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), rich archaeology, limestone grassland, ancient woodland and diverse wildlife. The National Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust share ownership of Crickley Hill and work in partnership to look after and protect the landscape.
'We recognise the need to find a solution to the longstanding traffic and safety issues associated with the A417 ‘Missing Link’ and we welcome the improvements Highways England has made to its proposed road scheme (Option 30) since the preferred route announcement in March.
'Whilst we remain disappointed that a tunnel option wasn’t included alongside the surface options put forward in the 2018 consultation, we are encouraged to see a proposed green bridge between Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake and the repurposing of a significant section of the existing A417 (allowing access across the landscape on cycling paths and walking trails). These measures will help to connect a landscape currently severed by the A417.
'However, there is more work to be done and significant mitigation is required to reduce the impact of the new infrastructure on the surrounding countryside if Option 30 is to deliver the landscape-led solution that has been proposed and that this special landscape deserves. Specifically, the proposed green bridge must be at least 80 metres wide to create an environment in which people and wildlife can interact successfully. Any narrower and it will fail to achieve its objective.
'Our key concern is that the significant mitigation required to deliver a landscape-led solution will be omitted or reduced due to budgetary constraints. Although the planning application (Development Consent Order) submission deadline is imminent, the current design has not been costed by Highways England and this presents a significant risk. Assurances are needed that the budget required for mitigation will be guaranteed so that we avoid a final scheme that adopts a standard linear mitigation approach.
'We are working together with our partner organisations locally to propose improvements to the scheme and move Highways England towards a solution that fits with their own landscape-led principles – one that is designed and delivered with the utmost care; provides mitigation proportionate in scale to the significance of the setting; delivers a net gain for biodiversity; and creates positive outcomes for both wildlife and visitors.
'We will now examine closely the details published today and will submit our full and detailed responses to the consultation in due course.'