Highways England's supplementary public consultation has now closed. If you would like to read our full response to the consultation, you can download it here:
Crickley Hill and the A417 road improvement scheme
Crickley Hill and the A417 Road Improvement Scheme
The traffic problems caused by the A417 as it passes Crickley Hill are well known and the road continues to blight the area, as it has for many years. There is no doubt that high congestion and collision levels need to be addressed and the problem of the ‘Missing Link’ finally solved.
Crickley Hill is set within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty and includes four designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It is nationally important because of its Iron-Age hill fort (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), ‘time capsule’ archaeology, limestone grassland, ancient woodland and diverse wildlife.
For these reasons, we welcome Highways England’s ambition to deliver an effective ‘landscape led’ road scheme that reflects the sensitive environment of this special place.
Reconnecting the landscape
At present the road divides Crickley Hill from Barrow Wake, Kilkenny and other key wildlife sites along the Cotswold escarpment.
We believe Highways England’s proposals present an opportunity to reconnect a disjointed landscape - improving habitats for nature and bringing benefits for people who wish to explore Crickley Hill and the wider landscape.
However, the scheme doesn’t yet provide enough protection for this special landscape and we are concerned that it will inflict additional harm.
Highways England recently announced a delay to the timeline of their planning application (Development Consent Order) while they respond to feedback received during the public consultation (held in October 2019) and re-think elements of the scheme.
This includes reviewing the proposed multi-purpose ‘green’ bridge, which (in the location identified in the statutory consultation) would have resulted in the destruction of a significant area of irreplaceable ancient woodland and the wildlife it supports (and therefore have a detrimental impact on the SSSI). Additionally, the habitats either side of the proposed bridge (at Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake) are different so species would not have an opportunity to spread across the landscape, as intended.
This scheme has the potential to showcase how a major road project can leave a lasting beneficial legacy for wildlife, delivering against the Government’s ambition to ‘build better, build greener’ and meeting the targets that will be set out in the Environment Bill (which aims to protect and improve the natural environment) once legislation is passed.
This is an important window of opportunity to create a lasting solution that includes measures to minimise the adverse impacts of new infrastucture in this delicate landscape and seeks to maximise the benefits. We, and our partner organisations, will continue to advocate for a solution that benefits the Cotswolds AONB, the environment and the local community.
Working in Partership
The National Trust shares joint ownership of the land at Crickley Hill with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT). We work together as custodians of this delicate, much-loved and well-used site to ensure it is protected for the enjoyment and benefit of both current and future generations.
GWT has also voiced its concerns about the route option currently proposed.
We have been in conversation with Highways England since 2016 and both charities are committed to working with Highways England as it seeks a landscape-led solution that can protect the views and setting of Crickley Hill; reconnect the wider landscape; and bring benefits to the local community and road users.
12 Nov 20
Our full response to the supplementary public consultation
13 Oct 20
Our initial response to the supplementary public consultation
Highways England has opened a supplementary public consultation so that people can have their say about proposed revisions to the A417 Missing Link road scheme following feedback from the consultation held in October 2019. We are pleased to see many of the changes but are urging Highways England to make sure the scheme brings a beneficial and lasting legacy for nature and heritage.
12 Aug 20
Our joint response to Highways England's revised proposals for the A417 Missing Link
Together with our partners at the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Natural England, we have outlined our response to Highways England’s changes to the A417 Missing Link road scheme. This is a chance to solve long-standing safety and congestion issues whilst respecting and protecting the landscape and local nature.