Alliance launches new petition against Westbury bypass
9:00am Saturday 26th July 2014 in News
The White Horse Alliance has launched a petition calling on Westbury MP Dr Andrew Murrison, and Wiltshire Council to support its campaign to stop an eastern bypass, which it says would ruin the landscape..
The Alliance - a coalition of 13 national and local groups ranging from the Campaign to Protect Rural England to local parish councils - is fighting plans by Wiltshire Council to revive the project for an eastern bypass of Westbury, already thrown out by the government in 2009.
The A350 eastern bypass route would go through the edge of the White Horse Country Park where the Trowbridge Village Pump folk festival is being held this weekend.
The alliance will be handing out leaflets urging people to lobby Dr Murrison.
The White Horse Alliance has today launched a petition calling on Westbury’s
A spokesman said: "We hope that hundreds of festival goers will read the special leaflet and will want to ask the MP for help to get the landscape of the festival site included in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."
Wiltshire Council tried to safeguard the eastern bypass route in its draft Core Strategy (Local Plan for the county to 2026).
The spokesman added: "Last year, when the council was claiming that the route had been saved from the local plan for West Wiltshire, the owners of the country park were forced to redesign an extension to the park’s golf course to accommodate the bypass The plan for a solar power array to the north of Westbury was also modified to create a parting through the panels for the Glenmore Link leg of the axed bypass scheme."
In April the Planning Inspector examining its draft plan told the council to remove the safeguarding.
Only a month later, it emerged that the local enterprise partnership wanted to commission a new study of options for a bypass of Westbury. The study would cost £2m, with £1m of the budget coming from Wiltshire Council.
‘The LEP has not secured any funding from the government so far,’ said Patrick Kinnersly, Secretary of the White Horse Alliance ‘but we know that Wiltshire Council will be lobbying hard for the £1m they need to match the million pounds of local money they have committed to the study.
"This disastrously misguided plan has already cost council taxpayers the best part of £5m. There are no prizes for guessing which route the council will want consultants to recommend."
The route the alliance claims the council hopes to safeguard would cross the western edge of the country park on a rising embankment before widening out to three lanes as it climbed up into the secluded Wellhead Valley.
The inspector’s report on the planning inquiry into Wiltshire County Council’s 2007 planning application said the transport case for the scheme was not strong enough to justify the harm it would do to what was already designated as a ‘special landscape area’ that includes the setting of the White Horse and Bratton Camp iron-age hill fort, the western escarpment of Salisbury Plain and the Wellhead Valley.
The White Horse Alliance has been campaigning for several years for this landscape to be protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It commissioned two reports by the landscape consultant Alan James. The first of these revealed that a government commission had already proposed the escarpment of the Plain as an AONB in 1950.
Natural England, the agency responsible for designating landscapes of national importance, is now examining the WHA’s proposed extension to the Cranborne Chase and West Wilts Downs AONB as a candidate for designation.
The proposal is supported by Westbury Town Council and Area Board and several parish councils.
An alliance spokesman added: "But Wiltshire Council has declined to support the application. The WHA believes the only explanation for this resistance must be that the council is afraid AONB status would stop it building a bypass between the town and the edge of Salisbury Plain."