October date for legal challenge to Tameside road scheme

A LEGAL challenge to a road scheme which supporters believe will alleviate one of Tameside’s most notorious traffic hotspots will be heard next month.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has gone to its lawyers over the A57 Link Roads Mottram Bypass scheme, which is designed the solve issues that have plagued Mottram Moor.

Particularly, it is questioning the granting of a Development Consent Order (DCO) by Transport Secretary Huw Merriman and how it reached two parts of data that allowed it to be granted.

Now a date of October 3 has been set for the hearing, when work should have got started in the spring.

A National Highways spokesman said: “The challenge focuses on two main areas.

Mottram Moor | Photo by Gemma Carter

“Firstly, on the way cumulative carbon assessments were carried out, along with local plans. Secondly, on how the assessment of alternatives and their impact on the green belt have been considered.

“When the challenge is heard in court, an independent judge will consider whether the grounds of the challenge have any relevance to the Secretary of State’s decision.

“If the judge determines the grounds are valid, they will be assessed as part of the legal proceedings. A decision will then be made in favour of the challenge or against it.

“If the outcome of the judicial review is to uphold the DCO, we’ll look to resume our construction programme planning and mobilisation of site works as soon as possible.

“We remain committed to delivering this vital project and the benefits it will bring to the local community.

“We believe our proposals will provide much-needed relief for drivers and businesses that use this important route every day, while delivering an economic boost to the Greater Manchester and Sheffield city regions.”

The project would see a dual carriageway run from the end of the M67 and through a new underpass to the north of Mottram to the A57 east of the junction at Black Moor.

Another single carriageway road would also link the A57 from Mottram Moor to Woolley Bridge, taking traffic away from the current route along Woolley Lane.

According to the Government’s decision, two new junctions, Mottram Moor Junction and Woolley Bridge Junction, will be created along with improvement works on the existing M67 junction four.

Five new structures – Old Farm Underpass, Roe Cross Road Overbridge, Mottram Underpass, Carrhouse Lane Underpass and River Etherow Bridge – will also be created.

Safety measures and improvements to the A57 from Mottram Moor Junction to Woolley Lane Junction will be put in place.

However, CPRE chief executive Tomo Thompson said the charity wanted to protect the countryside in the Peak District, commenting: “We have legal advice to support our opinion the minister failed to give due consideration and due diligence to two aspects of the findings which led to his decision to grant approval.

“We believe he has failed in his statutory duty to consider the environmental impact of the new roads, including the impact of the thousands of tonnes of carbon that this scheme would emit.”

He added Mr Merriman had failed to properly consider reasonable alternatives to the new road and there was no evidence that building a new road “moves away a traffic problem”.

Despite the legal challenge by CPRE, a number of recommendations made by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) are thought to have been incorporated into the current scheme.

And in the government’s decision to grant the DCO, it states: “Although Secretary of State notes the doubts expressed by CPRE, he is satisfied there is no substantive evidence that the proposed measures would be ineffective, particularly because there would be limited incentive for drivers to use Woolley Lane to avoid the Mottram Moor Junction.”

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