After a recent lull in ‘relief’ road news, this month will see the publication of the addendum to the Options Assessment Report, where the Nidd Gorge road is expected to make a comeback after being overwhelmingly rejected by our Harrogate Area county councillors last year.
Since that vote in December, and North Yorkshire’s decision to ignore it, NYCC’s transport planners, WSP, have been working on this report; appraising the various options for congestion relief in Harrogate, with a view to providing the next Harrogate Area Committee, on the 8th November, with more detail about the various options in the two packages being considered (Package B– a range of sustainable measures and Package E – sustainable measures + inner relief road).
This time, the committee will be asked for ‘comment’, regarding which packages they think should be taken to the public consultation process – due to start in February 2019. Controversially, following a shake up of the committee system (and possibly to provide a counter-balance to the anti-road feeling in Harrogate and Knaresborough), the Skipton and Ripon Area Committee will also be asked for their comments on the Harrogate Relief Road, on 13th December.
Unless the Inner Relief Road has failed a cost/benefit ratio test carried out by WSP, it is almost certain that an inner relief road with a link into Bilton, (green route) will be the only road option on the table when the councillors meet to discuss the addendum to the report.
After both committees have made their comments, the report will then proceed to the ten-person Executive of North Yorkshire County Council, the original architects of the road plan, to make the final decision about which packages to take to public consultation. Both Don Mackenzie and Michael Harrison, the only local councillors to vote in favour of the road last year, are two of the ten-member executive, who have the final say.
It is our educated guess that they will, ‘in the interests of local democracy’, include the road – which would wreck parts of Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway, and hugely increase traffic and pollution on Bilton Lane – in the public consultation due to take place from February to April 2019.
As opponents of the road we need to be ready for this, and mobilise a mass opposition to the destructive road and the done deal – plotted behind closed doors in the dusty rooms of County Hall.
Please get in touch if your organisation, business or group would like to support a more visionary, sustainable and environmentally sensible solution to our congestion problem.
Our towns and people are choking on traffic pollution and more roads will increase the traffic levels, not provide ‘relief’. It doesn’t have to be like this. A better way is possible and we need help to get that message out there.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Nidd Gorge Community Action