In the press this week Councillor Don Mackenzie has attacked our petition as being “badly worded”. Here is our response, delivered to the Harrogate Area County Councillors when the petition was discussed today (unfortunately Coun Mackenzie was not in attendance). Please keep signing and sharing. The petition will be running throughout 2018  until the road is dropped.

Statement to HAC (15/3/18)  in support of petition to

Save Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway

Good morning,

Thank you for inviting me to make a statement in support of the petition to Save Nidd Gorge  & the Nidderdale Greenway.

This petition was hastily organised after the last HAC on 7th December 2017 when it quickly became apparent that the result was too good to be  true and that the democratic will of this committee was not binding.

You recognised that any Inner Relief Road would be environmentally and socially damaging, wouldn’t work as a solution for congestion relief and probably wouldn’t receive government funding – and you voted by 14 votes to 2 to have it removed.

When we were informed that your collective decision could be overruled by an unaccountable, 3 man BES Executive, that, as usual, included the Executive Member for  Highways – who appears to be both judge and jury at every stage in this process – this petition To Save Nidd Gorge & the Nidderdale Greenway was started; asking Carl Les and David Bowe of NYCC  to… and I quote…

Listen to the Harrogate Area County Councillors and remove the inner relief road package (E) from the public consultation process.’

At the BES meeting, this 3-man executive were good enough to acknowledge the concerns of this committee, but still thought it necessary to keep the road on the table in order to:

  • comply with DfT guidelines for funding, a questionable judgment in itself according to The Campaign for Better Transport…and

 

  • they were now, also, suddenly concerned that they would be consulting the public with too little detail about the route of a road and the actual implications of sustainable measures, demand management and behavioural change.

 

This again calls into question the  judgement of the people organising this process, because, until  the setback of the Harrogate Area Committee vote,  they were ready to consult the public with vague information and must have had the leaflets ready to deliver to the 48000 households a few days later. What would the public have been asked, armed with this vague information and how influential and environmentally damaging could the result have been? I shudder to think. So thank you to all of you councillors here today who recognised the risk and voted against the road and what I think was North Yorkshire’s plan to fast-track it through to completion.

But, despite your considered and well-articulated intervention and the 2300 signatures on the petition (at the time of the BES),  the threat hasn’t  been lifted and  we are back here today because the democratic will of this locally elected, accountable and representative committee has not prevailed.

 

At this point I feel that I have to defend the wording of the petition that is titled Save Nidd Gorge & the Nidderdale Greenway because Councillor Mackenzie has publicly responded saying it is ”badly-worded” that its “claims are wrong” and that he is “not setting out to destroy the Nidd Gorge…because in his words… Nidd Gorge is a relatively narrow, steep-sided river valley. There is certainly no question that we are going to be putting a road into the Nidd Gorge.

This is not news to any of us that have been campaigning ‘To Save Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway’ we have always known that  the road wouldn’t run into the gorge itself. It is the damage  and destruction the road would do to the wider conservation and recreational area that has been the dynamic behind our call to action.

At the BES meeting Andrew Bainbridge said  that no  decision on an alignment had  yet been made and that at the time of the meeting the road could go

“almost anywhere in that development gap between Harrogate and Knaresborough.”

But in reality, as we  have said throughout the  campaign, at the Bilton end, to be an inner relief road, rather than an outer one, it has to be squeezed in between the housing of Bilton and the river. A space of  no more than 350m at its narrowest and currently occupied by Bilton Fields  – a beautiful wild approach to the spectacular Nidd Gorge itself and also a green and tranquil setting for the hugely popular Nidderdale Greenway.

We would like to know if this is the space where, Coun Mackenzie believes – as stated in his recent ‘The Way Ahead’ article in the Harrogate Advertiser – that …

  “there is plenty of room  for the Gorge, Greenway and road to co-exist” – with the road being 200m away from the treeline of Nidd Gorge at its closest?

If this is the case, then this petition is not ‘badly worded’, as he claims, because Bilton Fields are part and parcel of Nidd Gorge for its thousands of visitors. When you enter the area at the Bilton Lane  entrance, the big information board welcomes you to “Nidd Gorge”, well before the Greenway leads you along to Bilton Fields.

A major east-west highway running  adjacent to the Greenway along this stretch, cutting across it 200m before the viaduct and then cutting across Bilton Fields towards the A61  would completely destroy the beauty and tranquility, ruin the recreational  experience for visitors to Nidd Gorge and destroy the valuable wildlife habitat provided by the Greenway corridor and Bilton Fields.

Councillor MacKenzie, if he were here, would no doubt accuse us of exaggeration here, but just this week, on Tuesday evening, I witnessed the barn owl hunting over the  hedgerows of Bilton Fields and the Greenway, very close to where the A59 bypass will have to cross the Greenway.

This barn owl was not there  by  accident, it was there because this is a  conservation area  created by the vision and effort of people. To state that there is plenty of room here for co-existence with a major east-west highway shows utter contempt for the dedicated work of Bilton Conservation Group who have carefully  managed these fields since 1982 to enable this bio-diversity to occur. A road through here would be an environmental crime and an insult to their dedication and industry.

So this petition To Save Nidd Gorge and The Nidderdale  Greenway, with 3000 current signatures, will keep running until David Bowe agrees to remove the relief road  package, E, from the public consultation process, and the threat from this destructive road is  gone… once and for all!

If you haven’t signed it I urge you to do so.

In his summary, at the BES meeting, after receiving the petition, David Bowe publicly stated that:

“If we ever got to a stage where we were in a position to commission and build a relief road it would certainly never destroy or adversely impact Nidd Gorge itself in any significant way”

If he is true to his word, the dream of an inner relief road must be abandoned. It can’t be built without adversely affecting Nidd Gorge.

Thank you.

Why the wording of the petition – “Save Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway” – is spot on!

6 thoughts on “Why the wording of the petition – “Save Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway” – is spot on!

  • March 20, 2018 at 2:18 pm
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    I think that what is needed is 1; encouraging NYCC to do a full study into the plausibility of park and ride schemes. 2; As well as the money spent on the park and ride scheme, investment needs to be made in speeding up bottlenecks. ( The environmental damage will be a lot less than building a new road).3; Leafletting vehicles actually held up at peak times to encourage more flexible travel times.(At home working, more flexi time at work places, car sharing, getting self employed people to put more care into timings, would have an immediate benefit for any one managing to avoid peak times.) 4; Installing a good number of recharging points for electric vehicles in multi storey car parks, free parking for electric vehicles offset by a £3.50 recharging fee. These ideas would not stop all the local congestion and pollution, but neither would a new road!. If some NYCC councillors feel confident that there is money available for road improvements it could be diverted to these projects.

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  • March 22, 2018 at 9:16 pm
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    As a resident of Knaresborough who works in the community may I say that a inner relief road would a waste of time as we already know will just be another clogged road. If we are to build a bypass, this needs to be outside of Knaresborough altogether.

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  • March 23, 2018 at 11:37 pm
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    Councillor Mackenzie’s arrogance is out of order, he is ONE man against thousands of people, against preservation of natural beauty, against green environment which it’s so important for the mental and physical wellbeing of Harrogate’s population for now and the future. His agenda will bring more pollution and noise to the town which will sabotage the beauty and appealing of the town taking us a step back from progress and exclusiveness of clean, quality air and tranquillity from stressful modern lives that most people face today. The Nidd Gorge should be celebrated to give those people who suffer from serious illness a quiet place for healing, taking that away what do we have? the Valley Gardens? the Stray? those places are minimal and not peaceful enough, all surrounded with heavy traffic!

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  • March 27, 2018 at 12:46 pm
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    Could details be displayed here, showing which local politicians have taken practical steps and when, to tackle traffic congestion, e.g. those on the committee responsible for reducing air pollution in Air Quality Management Areas?

    When were local people first asked for practical ideas, which if combined, could or would go a significant way in reducing congestion and pollution?

    For example, which traffic lights are now “intelligently” co-ordinating traffic flows, particularly in rush cum slow hours? Where and when were those installed and when will others be made to operate in the same way?

    When was a decision taken, on whether to create train platforms on both sides of the Starbeck crossing? If all trains had to stop on one side or the other, barriers would only have to be lowered for trains to move off. There would be no more delays, with traffic backing up, until trains have arrived, stopped and departed. It would also avoid waiting for a second train, before the barriers can be lifted.

    What other tangible possibilities have been agreed, when were those tested and what are the results?

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  • June 3, 2018 at 11:08 am
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    We have been visiting this area for the last 5 years and enjoy the peace & quiet the walks around Bilton fields, Nice gorge & onwards to knaresborough, still not fully explored all, it’s just such a lovely place. We see this proposed road not making the slightest difference in fact will increase the volume of traffic to the area. We really hope it’s left alone.

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  • June 23, 2018 at 5:57 pm
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    A relief road accross Bilton fields is an absolute waste of time. Apart from more congestion on Bilton Lane, Woodfield Road and surrounding streets etc it would be absolutely devastating for the last bit of open fields and woodland in the north of Harrogate. It would rid the area of the lovely wildife and cost a huge amount of money for what? Nobody wants it, and everybody detests the idea so why wont you listen to the people who are local and would feel the negative impact? This relief road would just cause more noise. Would impact on many peoples lives and it would be the start of the degredation of the whole area NO NO NO to the northern relief road. It has been proved that the traffic on Skipton Road would not be reduced.

    Reply

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