Road through Rimrose Valley has not been supported by the courts, says MP.
Highways England's false claim that a judicial review had backed its decision to build a road through Rimrose Valley Coutry Park has been criticised by an MP.
Bill Esterson, MP for Sefton Central, said the error raises the question of whether Highways England were "trying to pull a fast one".
A recent judicial review brought by Sefton Council, which challenged Highways England's decision not to consult on the option of a tunnel instead of a road, found in Highways England's favour but did not give a view on whether the road should be built.
However, in a letter to Mr Esterson, Tim Gamon, Highways England's Regional Investment Programme Regional Director, stated that the High Court had "ruled in favour of the preferred route option".
In fact, the court did not express any views of the preferred route option. The court simply held that Highways England did not act unlawfully in not consulting upon the tunnel option during the consultation exercise.
The letter said the High Court challenge had led to delays in building the road. Mr Gamon wrote: "Naturally the challenge has impacted on the 2019 construction date. We now expect to start work in late 2022 or early 2023."
Mr Esterson said: "The wording from Highways England is important and has led people to wonder if Highways England were trying to pull a fast one. There has been no vindication of the building of a road through Rimrose Valley, which is still opposed by residents, councillors and MPs.”
“The government should be considering a tunnel and it should be investing in rail freight to both maximise the economic benefits from the port and to reduce roadside emissions. The people living near the port deserve action to cut pollution and everyone needs transport to move away from fossil fuels because we have to stop global warming. Only the government can make these decisions and build the new rail lines which we need. The announcement of upgraded railway lines from Manchester to Leeds, which the new Prime Minister made this week are a repeat of what the Conservatives said in 2014. They didn't carry out the work then and you have to wonder if this time will be any different.”
“Meanwhile, the announcement does nothing to help ease the problems on Dunnings Bridge Road as Boris Johnson has said nothing about the desperate need for a new railway across the country from Liverpool to Hull and Liverpool, including the port of Liverpool. Labour will make the investment in rail that we need and make sure that we move to a zero carbon economy. That inevitably means action on plans like the Rimrose Valley Road. Building a new road through Rimrose Valley is not the answer and I am afraid that the misleading claims of Highways England on behalf of the government show they simply are not serious about the environment, about tackling global warming or about the people affected by roadside air pollution.”
"The fight against the road continues."
Highways England has now acknowledged that their earlier statement was factually incorrect.
Picture of Bill Esterson MP at Rimrose Valley