Open Letter to the Highways Agency

Attention Mr. Patrick Thomas

Network Delivery and Development Directorate


Dear Mr. Thomas

We are writing to ask for clarification regarding the outcome of a meeting held, we understand, on  10 November 2014, between yourself and/or your colleagues, with representatives of Herefordshire Council concerning the proposed Southern Link Road between the A49 and A465.

This meeting was reported on in Cabinet on 13 November, when it was explained that apparently there would be no extra traffic moving on to the A49 as a result of the Southern Link Road taking traffic away from the A465 south west of Hereford.

We find it hard to believe that this will be the case as the Preferred Option Report, tabled at Herefordshire Cabinet meeting and prepared by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), clearly states (e.g. Cl. 7.5.2 and Cl.7.6.2)  that traffic on the A49 will increase.

There was also an assurance in the Preferred Option Report that complementary transport measures were included in the South Wye Transport Package and this fact was welcomed by yourselves in your  letter to the Council dated 7 August 2014. However it was made plain in the Cabinet meeting by the Council’s Assistant Director, Place Based Commissioning, that the Southern Link Road is a standalone scheme with certain benefits for the Enterprise Zone. Any so-called ‘complementary’ transport measures will only take place after the Southern Link Road has been built and this is subject to funding being available after the costs of the road have been covered.

We find it hard to understand why Highways Agency guidance in this regard is being ignored by the Council.  Your letter of 7 August 2014 specified that “under current guidance the building of new road infrastructure could only be justified in policy terms when other avenues such as travel planning and sustainable travel modes had been developed and shown not to address the transport needs and issues identified….”  This section of your letter was not included in the Preferred Option Report to the Cabinet meeting.

We would be grateful if you could write to the Honorary Secretary of Here for Hereford, to clarify

(a) what was agreed at the pre-meeting mentioned above (para #1) regarding traffic volume estimates on the A49 ?

(b) whether or not the Highways Agency has endorsed the Marches LEP’s provisional allocation of £27.6 million from the Local Growth Fund for the standalone Southern Link Road when it will increase car use, vehicle emissions, air and noise pollution/greenhouse gasses, and do nothing to assist walking and cycling within the South Wye area?

(c) whether or not the Highways Agency has approved the calculation of a Benefit Cost Ratio of 3.55 for the South Wye Transport Package and, if so, whether they will require a re-calculation of this figure now that the other elements in the Transport Package are not being pursued?

Thank you for your help in this matter and we look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


December 2014


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