PLANS for an eastern bypass for Westbury will not be revived in the near future as campaigners celebrated the 10th anniversary of them being shelved.

Earlier this month, supporters of the White Horse Alliance gathered for a garden party overlooking the quiet valley they saved from the bulldozers and the roar of fast traffic a decade ago.

It’s ten years since the government axed the A350 Westbury Eastern Bypass, meaning the £5 million spent on developing the scheme went to waste.

Up to £40 million of allocated funding was transferred to other projects, including the £26 million dualling of the railway between Swindon and Kemble.

Patrick Kinnersly, secretary of the White Horse Alliance, which was formed in 2007 to campaign against the scheme, said:“The Inspectors who examined the eastern bypass plan at a long public inquiry in 2008 condemned its transport case for not being good enough to justify the damage it would have done to the tranquil landscape of the Wellhead Valley.

“The old county council and its replacement unitary authority, Wiltshire Council, tried to revive the road, so far without success.

“At the Examination in Public of WC’s draft local plan in 2013, WC tried to carry the safeguarded route of the bypass forward into the new plan. The EiP inspector agreed with our witnesses and legal adviser that the route should be deleted. WC reluctantly agreed to delete it from the map for the county’s development to 2026.“Wiltshire Council officers and councillors have made it clear they want to revive the scheme. It is on the wish-list of roads supported by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership as part of a fast ‘North-South link’ along the A350 between the M4 and the port of Poole.”

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council's cabinet member for highways, said: “At this moment our focus is on other major highway projects and we are not pursuing an A350 Westbury Eastern Bypass, or any other A350 Westbury options.

“We are continually developing Wiltshire’s economic potential, and as part of the Western Gateway Sub-national Transport Body (STB) we will shortly be submitting bids for funding to the Department for Transport for M4 J17 improvement; A350 Chippenham Bypass improvements (Phases 4&5); A350 Melksham Bypass; and A338 Salisbury improvements."

“Following our previous joint work closely with Dorset Council and BANES Council, the Western Gateway STB is taking on getting the issue of poor north-south connectivity from the south coast to Bristol/Wales and the Midlands included in Highway England’s Road Investment Strategy 2 programme, which covers the years 2020 to 2025.”

Mr Kinnersly said Wiltshire Council has declined to support the WHA’s proposal for an extension of the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Beauty round the western escarpment of Salisbury Plain to embrace the Wellhead Valley and the famous White Horse at Westbury Hill.

He thanked the members of the Westbury Bypass Alliance who had raised more than a third of the funds needed for the expert witnesses and legal advisers who presented an overwhelming case against the road at the public inquiry and who have raised hundreds of pounds more for the ongoing campaign against the A350 growth corridor.

He said: ‘If they can persuade council taxpayers, housing developers and the government to cough up the money, which could be approaching £100 million at today’s prices, Wiltshire Council will have another go at building this destructive road.

“Local people will be told it will improve their lives but they won’t be told that the council’s dream is to create a fast strategic road from Chippenham to Warminster and beyond to carry container lorries to and from the Channel ports, day and night.

“They won’t be asked if that’s what they want in the age of climate emergency or if there would be better ways to spend their money in an age of austerity when housing, healthcare, social services and public transport are all in crisis.”