Controversial A57 Tameside traffic scheme clears legal hurdle

THE MUCH-DEBATED A57 bypass scheme that would ease traffic through Mottram and Hollingworth has cleared a major legal hurdle.

But whether it will go ahead depends on the outcome of another case, judgment of which will be handed down early next year.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) challenged the decision to progress the A57 Link Roads Mottram Bypass scheme, which is designed the solve issues that have plagued Mottram Moor.

As well as it going through land on the Green Belt, it questioned the granting of a Development Consent Order by Transport Secretary Huw Merriman and how it reached two parts of data that allowed it to be granted.

But after a High Court hearing, Lady Justice Thornton has ruled in favour of the Government and National Highways.

That saw CPRE table alternatives, including a one-way scheme around Mottram and a ‘low carbon’ package aimed at avoiding road building by making use of the existing roads and stimulating greater use of public transport, walking and cycling.

A57 Mottram Bypass drone footage Tameside
Drone footage of congestion through Mottram on the A57

Stephen Bagshaw and Peter Simon suggested a gyratory using Hyde Road and other parts of the existing network, together with a new link from junction four of the M67 to Roe Cross Lane through the fields to the north of Hyde Road.

But in documents, Last Justice Thornton stated: “In my judgment, the approach taken demonstrates no error of law.

“I do not accept the underlying factual basis of CPRE’s primary case that the Secretary of State treated alternatives as a material consideration but failed to assess them for himself.

“Nor am I persuaded that the alternatives advanced by CPRE and Mr Bagshaw were mandatory material considerations such that it was unlawful for the Secretary of State to rely on their assessment by National Highways in its options appraisal of the scheme.”

CPRE claimed the ‘Secretary of State unlawfully failed to comply with the requirement in Regulation 21(1)(b) of the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 to provide a reasoned conclusion on the significant effects of the scheme because he erroneously treated National Highways’ Environmental Statement as providing a cumulative assessment of the carbon emissions from the scheme and he failed to assess the significance of those cumulative impacts.’

Drone footage of congestion through Hollingworth

The case adds: “CPRE’s primary case is that the Secretary of State treated alternatives as a material consideration.

“This is said to be unsurprising as National Highways had relied on the absence of alternatives to justify development in the Green Belt.”

But Lady Justice Thornton’s judgment declared in relation to looking at alternatives: “I do not accept the underlying factual basis of CPRE’s primary case.”

It details: “It is apparent from a review of its statement of case that National Highways did not seek to justify the scheme on the basis there were no alternatives or that its scheme was the best, or better than other options.

“It relied on the need for the scheme, the rigorous assessment it had undergone and on the absence of any alternative to development in the Green Belt.

“Its statement of case explains that the scheme is required to link two existing locations, which are surrounded by Green Belt, and cannot therefore be completed without works being undertaken in the Green Belt.

“In my view, CPRE’s forensic focus on particular sentences and phrases in the statement of case engages in the ‘over-legalisation’ of the planning process.”

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.

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 built.

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

However, CPRE’s Peak District and South Yorkshire branch declared their fight is not over, even though they will not appeal this decision.

Another case surrounding the A47 in Norfolk relating to the assessment of carbon could extend their cause, which has already forced a delay to building work.

They said: “We are disappointed the judge found against us in her verdict on one of our two grounds against the Secretary of State for Transport.

“However, we accept the verdict and following legal advice the board have decided not to appeal it.

“The progress of our other ground, which is still live, now depends on the appeal hearing of another similar case.

“It is the outcome of that hearing that will determine the next steps in our case. We expect to know more in the first quarter of 2024.”

Lady Justice Thornton’s decision was welcome by Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds, who said: “I welcome this news and urge the government to get on with this much needed relief road which will improve local health outcomes and boost the local economy.

“I know that local people have been waiting decades and will believe it when they see it, but this is yet another hurdle down towards diggers in the ground.

“Let’s get this built and keep pushing for a longer-term solution for Hollingworth and Tintwistle.”

One Reply to “Controversial A57 Tameside traffic scheme clears legal hurdle”

  1. The proposed by pass is only shifting the pollution to another part of Mottram . The final plan is a joke paying lip service to local politicians ( take a look at plans from 25 years back)
    When the COVID ENQUIRY finishes in London it will have cost more than the proposed by pass.!
    Another case of the Establishment Always being right ( don’t forget THE POST OFFICE )

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