MP Bill Esterson has questioned the Government's commitment to tackling the climate emergency after being told "all the alternative options have been considered" regarding the decision to build a road through Rimrose Valley.
The MP has written to the Minister for Roads and Security to urge her to consider the case for increasing capacity on the railway so that more freight from the Port of Liverpool can be transported by train.
The MP says air quality targets will be made more difficult if not impossible to meet if a new road, which will inevitably lead to more polluting vehicles using the roads in Sefton, is built.
Following correspondence from members of the Rimrose Valley Friends protest group, Mr Esterson wrote to the Roads Minister, Baroness Vere.
Baroness Vere, Minister for Roads, wrote to the MP in response: "Regarding the Department reconsidering a non-road, multi-modal solution, the scheme has already gone through the phase where all the alternative options have been considered. I am satisfied that this has been done properly and therefore there is no case to intervene."
In response Mr Esterson raised the following concerns on behalf of Rimrose Valley Friends: "Regarding non-road, multi-modal solutions, we have never seen or been presented with any research into which were considered, their feasibility and their costs. Our contention is that, by instructing Highways England alone, we were only ever going to be offered a road-based solution and cheap ones at that."
"How do the Minister's views sit with recent, positive statements made by her own government regarding increased investment in infrastructure projects in the north of England? This is a prime example of an infrastructure project that is outdated before it has even begun."
"Work began on this project long before urgent issues such as the climate emergency, destruction of biodiversity and the impact of air pollution on the public's health became headline news. In light of this, how can the Minister justify the continued pursuit of a scheme which will make all of these things far worse?"
Mr Esterson added in his letter: "The Government has promised a £500m investment in railway infrastructure in the North and I would urge you to work with Transport colleagues to investigate what efforts could be made to increase the capacity of the railway in the Merseyside area so that more freight can be taken from the Port of Liverpool by train, and whether this could negate the need for a new road completely."
Mr Esterson said, “The Prime Minister has given the go ahead for HS2, the new high speed railway from South to North. But the way to make the most of the £106billion investment in the new high speed railway from London is to build local rail links, especially for freight. A new rail link into the port would be the best way to maximise the benefits of national rail infrastructure. It would also address the public health emergency from roadside emissions, protect Rimrose Valley Park and help deal with the climate crisis.”
PIC: The MP at Rimrose Valley Country Park