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Transport campaigners welcome Heysham Link inquiry

John Freeman
Local transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe have welcomed the announcement by the Government to hold a public inquiry into the Lancashire County Council plan to build the highly controversial Heysham M6 Link HGV route across the North Lancashire Green Belt.

"Many difficult issues remain to be resolved before the Government considers funding this multi-million pound scheme," said David Gate, chair of TSLM, "and this inquiry will present an opportunity to present expert evidence to show why the damaging and destructive road should not be built."

The dual carriageway road, at present estimated to cost £140 million, would cut across residential districts and destroy 173 acres of Green Belt farm land. It has been calculated that the Link would generate an extra 23,500 tonnes of CO2 per year from vehicle emissions. It represents an attempt by LCC to attract heavy goods vehicles to use Heysham as their ferry route to Ireland.

The plan is opposed by the district’s MP Geraldine Smith, and neither Lancaster City Council nor Morecambe Town Council support the County Council scheme.

Skerton Labour Party also has policy against the road, concerned about the increased traffic the Link will bring to residential streets.

"The North Lancashire public simply want an end to their in town traffic congestion misery, and for the transport budget to be spent on improving movement between Lancaster and Morecambe," said Mr Gate. "Sadly, the inquiry will probably focus on the road plan itself, and not on this top priority local issue. While County Hall in Preston pursues its Link road, no plans are being advanced to end the local traffic logjam nightmare."

TSLM supports an integrated transport strategy, which is not based on the £140 million lorry Link. It believes that lower cost plans produced for the district by transport consultants Faber Maunsell for an integrated package of measures for Lancaster and Morecambe should be the way forward for transport in North Lancashire.