Carrington Moss – Climate Solution or Council Sacrifice?

I watched this short video from Trafford Council’s leader out of curiosity.  It is only 2 minutes long so do have a listen.  Concern is expressed about the climate crisis, the recognition that it will cost billions if not addressed, the acknowledgement of the extreme weather events that we are already seeing EVERY year. 

It is interesting that Councillor Western focused on issues such as flooding, air pollution and the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.  Yet, Trafford plans to decimate Carrington Moss, an area which generates a natural capital value of over £15m per annum (based on GM’s Natural Capital Account, figure 1, 2019 Natural Environment Topic Paper). 

It plans to significantly increase air pollution and the risk of flooding for local residents here, and, of course, the loss of our peat moss will result in a massive carbon release event.

The climate change page on Trafford’s website provides links to examples of collaborative work “to reduce and mitigate carbon emissions as well as adapting to a changing climate”.  One of these is labelled Nature and Biodiversity.  Click on that link and you are taken to a Lancashire Wildlife Trust article (December 2020) announcing that “Nature is on the road to recovery in Greater Manchester”.

Councillor Western is quoted in the article stating that “The funding will help deliver some of the essential work being undertaken to safeguard wildlife habitats, develop natural flood management projects and peatland carbon stores, and teach families and young children about the natural world on our doorsteps”.

But he doesn’t mean here on Carrington Moss, where he is planning to unnecessarily release 169 hectares of green belt to build housing and employment space that could be located elsewhere in Trafford (or even elsewhere in GM, as residents keep being told we must consider the regional strategy, known as Places for Everyone, as a whole). 

The article states “The aim is to fund natural flood management projects and peatland restoration transforming areas into carbon stores”. 

But not here on Carrington Moss, which has 325 hectares of peat, that Trafford states is 3m deep

Despite the huge numbers of additional residents and employees who will be travelling into and out of the area, there are NO plans for any sustainable passenger or freight transport options.  Instead, Trafford plans to construct a road across the Grade 2 agricultural land, woodland, wetland and peatland habitats. 

Stockport’s leadership appears to understand the issues as they rejected their controversial bypass.  Council leader Elise Wilson said a new road that would “destroy wildlife and natural habitats” was an “old world solution“.

But Trafford is sticking with their “old world solution”! 

Residents have ideas for alternatives to constructing a road across the Moss, but Trafford is not interested in even hearing about them, never mind exploring their potential!

Despite their declaration of a climate emergency in November 2018, and the creation of a Carbon Neutral Action Plan in December 2020 (a plan that does not even mention that Trafford has, not one, but two, peat mosses), Trafford appears confused about what sustainability actually means.  Maybe they should take a look at our previous blog!

We have also recently produced our latest Carrington Lake video which, once again, shows just how much water is captured and retained by Carrington Moss.  It’s less than 5 minutes long and highlights the level of hypocrisy we are facing from both GM and Trafford’s leadership.  We’d love to hear just how many attenuation ponds you think we’ll need to capture all that water that is currently being contained by our irreplaceable mossland.

Nationwide, it is acknowledged that the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.  The Government has an aim to leave the environment in a better state than they found it, setting targets to halt the decline in species, to improve air and water quality and increase our woodland cover.  There is a recognition that we need to use our natural resources more sustainably and that it is critical to build up resilience against the impacts of a changing climate, to enhance our natural capital to support our food security, health and wellbeing, and economic prosperity.

Yet, here in Trafford, there is a plan to further diminish the already threatened populations of red listed birds and endangered wildlife that breed and feed on Carrington Moss and to sacrifice our best and most versatile agricultural land, that future generations may need to provide locally sourced produce to survive! 

Trafford will be spending public money decimating existing nature-rich wetland habitats and will then spend more public money creating new, man-made, habitats, which will take decades to generate the same level of ecosystem benefits.

It is now clear that the biodiversity and climate emergencies are comprehensively interconnected and that there are compelling reasons why both should be considered together to create solutions that reduce the risks to all populations (both human and wildlife).

Greater Manchester’s leaders declared a biodiversity emergency on 25th March, with Mayor Andy Burnham talking about the “habitats being lost, destroyed and becoming less diverse due to the impact of development, climate change, pollution and invasive species”.  Yet, he is presiding over a plan that will see huge levels of biodiversity loss across the region.

Perhaps his suggested “rallying cry” will signal a change of approach to the unnecessary loss and destruction of the region’s precious green belt!!!

Yet, while Carrington Moss is being sacrificed by GM and the local leadership, sustainability is out of the window, the biodiversity and climate emergencies are not being considered, neither is their accountability to future generations! 

Carrington Moss provides a number of ecosystem services, including walking, cycling and horse riding routes, excess water capture (huge amounts of that), Grade 2 agricultural land (capable of growing locally sourced food), woodland, wetland and peat moss habitats, is the breeding and feeding grounds for numerous red listed birds and endangered wildlife species (including the willow tit and the water vole), has historical value, and brings health and wellbeing benefits to local communities and those who visit the area.

Greater Manchester is overspending its carbon budget and Places for Everyone will make it much worse

Guest blog:
by Mark Burton (Steady State Manchester)
and Matthew Broadbent (Save Greater Manchester Green Belt)

We are delighted to link specifically to this blog that has been created by our colleagues in Greater Manchester.

Mark and Matthew have assessed:

  • the carbon budget GM’s Combined Authority commissioned from the Tyndall Centre (University of Manchester)
  • the advice given by the Tyndall Centre about the pathway to reaching net zero
  • the alarming lack of progress that has been reported this month
  • the impact and importance of the separate category of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).

They specifically highlight that the Regional plan, known as Places for Everyone (P4E), will involve significant levels of construction on green spaces.  This means that the Region’s capacity to reduce the impact of additional emissions will decrease significantly, severely affecting GM’s aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2038!

In looking at the scale of planned development set out in P4E, much of which will result in green belt release across the Region, Mark and Matthew emphasise the loss of carbon capturing opportunities, as well as the huge level of carbon emissions generated.

Their findings suggest it is highly likely that, on housing alone, the P4E proposals will be disastrous for the Region’s ambition to be carbon neutral.  Different choices could be made to meet housing need, options that do not rely so heavily on new construction!  Here in Trafford, there are also alternatives to constructing new roads across the green belt too.

It is clear from Mark and Matthew’s research, however, that the GMCA has not fully assessed the carbon implications of the P4E Plan, and they believe that the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) has not been conducted to an appropriate standard, especially given the conclusions reached by the Authorities.

The lack of information provided by the GMCA about the carbon implications of their strategic plan is astounding, particularly as there were so many P4E documents (more than 150, with 14,000 pages to review), but, as we pointed out in our own response, some of those pages include evidence that is very dated and some, like the carbon emissions data, is not provided at all. 

Mark and Matthew actually found that other Authorities do provide the data required to robustly assess the carbon emissions.  Their example from the Cambridge Local Plan is enlightening.

We totally agree that one of the most shocking omissions from the SEA is the absence of GM’s key objective, the 2038 target for carbon neutrality.  It must be remembered that it is this P4E strategic plan that must secure that target!

If you are interested in finding out more about the Tyndall Centre’s view of Trafford’s carbon emissions targets, you can find an interesting summary here. You will note that the final paragraph states “We also recommend that the LULUCF sector should be managed to ensure CO2 sequestration where possible. The management of LULUCF could also include action to increase wider social and environmental benefits“. Constructing roads, housing and employment space on a peat moss, grade 2 agricultural land, wetland and woodland will not support the achievement of that recommendation!

A biased and misleading Option Appraisal

At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps. 

A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts.  The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by the sheer volume of misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).

This is the sixth in our series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.

This blog focuses on a review of the CRR Preferred Options Report (dated 7th August, 2021).


In this blog, we’ll review the CRR Preferred Options Report (7th August 2021), which was referred to within the Scrutiny Committee presentation (12th January 2022) and in the report to Trafford’s Executive of 27th September 2021 (Carrington & Partington Transport Infrastructure – Carrington Relief Road Update).  Unless otherwise stated, references to “the document” or “the report” in this blog refers to that CRR Preferred Options Report.

We have reviewed the document in detail and, in common with previous documents about the CRR, it is crammed full of misleading information, inaccuracies, conflicting statements, bias and other issues. 

At the Scrutiny Committee meeting, Trafford’s officer stated that the Preferred Options Report is a “very detailed analysis of the options and the benefits and disbenefits”.  This is not correct.  Some elements of the report are at a very high level and the benefits and disadvantages of the two options have clearly been considered with the aim of ensuring Trafford’s predetermined preference (Option F) was proposed to, and agreed by, the Executive Committee.  As an example, the assessment of route option advantages and disadvantages does not take into consideration environmental impacts (air, noise and light pollution), active travel benefits, loss of grade 2 agricultural land, loss of bird/wildlife habitats, and more!

The level of bias is clear, not just from the content of this report but also from the statements set out in previous Option Appraisal (OA) documents.  The link to the Outline Business Case (OBC) is included in the introduction to this blog.  Click on the graphic below to go to the OA from October 2020.

Scrutiny Committee members rightly highlighted a number of issues with the CRR presentation, including whether the costs of this road can be justified, particularly in terms of the inevitable requirements of climate change and whether bolder alternatives should have been considered. 

What about those Cost Implications?

The document states that, despite the pressure on the public purse, the difference in cost should be considered marginal, not impacting option selection.  We disagree, especially as many of the Option F costs are excluded from the estimate and Option A (currently estimated at 10% less than Option F), if redesigned (see below), is likely to significantly reduce the costs of the route.  The report also suggests that it is a requirement of the Core Strategy that the CRR is provided.  This is highly misleading because the road proposed in the Core Strategy was priced at £3m (a much less intrusive plan than the current proposal).

There is confusion about the current costs though!  The CRR Update report to Trafford’s Executive Committee (27th September 2021) states that the “current budget for the scheme is £29.4m”.  Previous reports have quoted higher capital costs (£34m).  We believe it is highly unlikely that, in the current market conditions, costs have come down and, in any event, this Options Appraisal (OA) suggests the cost of the preferred option would be £36m (albeit that this estimate excludes huge chunks of required expenditure).  It is also unclear whether the costs include or exclude the active travel routes, bus lanes, traffic calming, crossings (both human and wildlife), flood prevention or biodiversity net gain requirements.  In response to the public engagement exercise, we requested more information about these cost estimates.  This request has not been fulfilled.

Whilst this OA does not analyse the cost benefits of the road option, this was done in the OBC (December 2019), which stated “Overall, the scheme produces significant benefits, about £132m over the 60-year appraisal period”.  The OBC explains that the benefits are generated by travel time savings (£126m) and vehicle operating costs (£29m).  This 60-year figure equates to £2.2m per year.  As shown in the graphic above, we have estimated the Natural Capital Value of Carrington Moss, based on the GM Natural Capital Account (GMSF, Jan 2019, Natural Environment Topic Paper, figure 1).  Our calculations suggest Carrington Moss achieves a Natural Capital benefit of around £15m per year.  This certainly should have been considered as part of the decision-making process about the route!

In addition, the journey time saving for Option F is only expected to be “almost one minute”, with such savings possibly being totally eroded as a result of congestion caused by the induced traffic concerns highlighted by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – see next paragraph.  When compared to the destruction of Grade 2 (best and most versatile) agricultural land, woodland, wetland and peatland, Trafford’s declaration of the climate emergency and the emphasis on nature’s recovery, we believe the benefits of this road scheme have NOT been proven. 

One Scrutiny Committee member raised the issue about the evidence that a new road will alleviate congestion.  In fact, TfGM raised this very issue in their Transport Locality Assessment (TLA), which highlighted their concerns (paragraph 12.3.3) that, as the capacity of the Option F route is increased, it becomes more attractive for road users (ie inducing additional traffic to the route, increasing congestion in the area).  Despite this concern, the Preferred Option report quotes TfGM as suggesting that the CRR will result in lower traffic flows and better services for Partington.  This is misleading given their comments in the TLA and, as the Option F route only serves a small Eastern section of the A6144, residents in Partington are unlikely to see any changes to their journey times!

The report also suggests Option A will result in a significant increase in traffic volumes at the Isherwood Road junction.  Option F is likely to drive much greater use of this junction, as much more traffic from Flixton/Urmston will use the (supposedly) quieter A6144 between Isherwood Road and Banky Lane (another example of the CRR inducing yet more traffic onto the existing road).

No dispute about the A1 route – let’s get it started!

One common aspect of both route options is the plan to open the A1 route, end to end.  This is something we believe Trafford could have progressed with landowners already, along with the implementation of traffic calming measures through the village of Carrington.  It should be noted, however, that Trafford are NOT planning to close the existing road to HGVs and through traffic (the report states that, for Option A only 60% of the expected traffic will use the A1 route, for Option F only around 64% of the expected traffic will use the A1 route).  This means high numbers of vehicles will continue to use the existing A6144.  The commitment is only to “discourage through traffic from using this route”.  This means that residents will be surrounded by the consequential air, noise and light pollution and bus timetables will continue to be disrupted by slow traffic during rush hour. 

As there is no dispute about the A1 route, we will focus the rest of this blog on the analysis of the Eastern part of the CRR (Option A, using the existing A6144 between Banky Lane and Isherwood Road, and Option F, which constructs a new major road across Carrington Moss).

The Friends of Carrington Moss (FOCM) has previously raised issues with Trafford about the disingenuous documentation in relation to the plans for this road (which really should have another name as it is not going to relieve anyone).  Our response to the OBC (December 2019) detailed our concerns about the lack of engagement with residents, the costings, the air pollution, the strategic aims for the road and also the misleading statements and factual errors that permeated the report (as well as other issues).  You can find our letter to Trafford’s CEO here.  We have still not had answers to the questions we raised.

The Spatial Framework has NOT YET BEEN APPROVED!

So, let’s start at the beginning, with the Scheme Objectives.  As we pointed out in our previous blog, we asked why protecting the health and wellbeing of existing residents is not the number one objective.  Not only did this suggestion not make it to number one on the list of objectives, it did not even make it onto the list itself!  Trafford confirms that the design team discussed the proposals with TfGM to determine the current issues and future plans for public transport improvements in the area but there has been no response to our repeated requests for workshops with local communities to determine OUR requirements. 

The primary objective, as confirmed in the GM Transport Delivery Plan, is all about supporting growth.  Yet the spatial framework plans have not yet been approved and the Future Proofing section of the Options Appraisal covers just two proposals: dualling the route and giving access to the new Sale West developments.  Despite these plans for the overdevelopment of this area, there has been no consideration of any alternative opportunities to support future growth, such as sustainable passenger and freight transport options.  The lack of consideration for such solutions is imprudent and does not suggest Trafford is acting in the best interests of its existing and future residents, especially as the area is right next to the Manchester Ship Canal and incorporates two former railway lines which we understand are capable of restoration. 

Given Trafford’s declaration of a climate emergency, and the GM Transport Strategy aims to significantly reduce car traffic and move freight to rail and water-based transport options by 2040 (less than 20 years away), it is astounding that Trafford consider a dual carriageway is a rational or cost-effective solution!

In addition, the document makes it clear that the A1 road cannot be dualled.  It is questionable whether the Carrington Spur can be dualled (it was originally designed as a single lane motorway).  This will lead to significant congestion (and the potential for accidents) at either end of any dual carriageway.

A very biased articulation of Option A!

It is clear that Option A was described in such a way that it could not be progressed.  Back in March 2021, residents asked Trafford how their suggested improvements to the design of Option A could be fed into the process?  There was no response and our requests for workshops were also ignored.

It is noted that, whilst some of the obstacles relating to Option F have been highlighted, they have not been considered a barrier to implementation (with, for example, mitigation being mentioned in relation to the ecology/biodiversity concerns, and an extension to scope being proposed, to address the current gap in active travel provisions along Isherwood Road).  Yet, for Option A, constraints have been considered to be a total barrier to selection, without any consideration of alternatives to ameliorate the issues, despite resident feedback. 

Trafford suggests that Option A is constrained by existing residential properties.  This is not the case. It is impeded ONLY by Trafford’s lack of leadership on sustainable transport options.  Growth is set out in the Places for Everyone Spatial Plan, which covers a 16 year period, starting at the point of approval (as mentioned above, this plan is not yet approved). 

This gives Trafford and TfGM time to develop and implement sustainable passenger and freight transport solutions.  Why isn’t this the priority, rather than focusing on increasing road traffic in the area?

So, given those timescales, the GM Transport Strategy aims and Trafford’s declaration of a climate emergency, there is no requirement for Option A to secure land (via Compulsory Purchase Order or otherwise) or to demolish existing properties. 

In comparing the land needed for Option A and Option F, whilst Trafford emphasises the requirement for CPOs for their current articulation of Option A, they make no mention of the land status of Option F, which is Grade 2 (best and most versatile) agricultural land, wetland, woodland and peatland, all of which should have a measure of protection, according to planning guidance.

Trafford’s officer suggested to the Scrutiny Committee that Option F will provide much safer cycling provision.  This is not the case.  With Option F, existing walking, cycling and horse riding routes will be severely fractured, leaving residents and users unable to travel from one side of the moss to the other without crossing a major road or taking a long detour.  There is nothing in the documentation which suggests there will be crossings, for humans or wildlife.  This could lead to a significant increase in accidents and health related incidents. 

In addition, Trafford suggests that Option A would “compromise the high-quality active travel provision the scheme is required to provide, which is one of the main scheme objectives”.  This is, again, incorrect.  If Option A was chosen, high-quality active travel routes can be provided across Carrington Moss.  Public Rights of Way (PROWs), such as Carrington 1 (which runs in parallel to the existing A6144 between Banky Lane and Isherwood Road) should be upgraded to encourage modal shift.  Trafford also suggests active travel commuters would prefer Option F.  This is, once again, incorrect, as shown by the feedback to the WCHAR exercise.  Active travel commuters would prefer Option A, so they have uninterrupted routes across Carrington Moss (which, as noted in the report, is the shorter route).  This is also true for leisure users, as routes across the moss will be much more pleasant, healthier and safer (rather than walking, cycling and horse riding next to huge volumes of speeding traffic that creates significant levels of air, noise and light pollution).  With this segregated active travel approach, the redesign would mean Option A does NOT require carriage widening.

The document suggests Option F would result in the A6144 becoming a more friendly route for active travel users over its full length, on a quieter, reduced speed road.  This is also incorrect for three reasons.  Firstly the A6144 runs from Sale to Warburton, Option F covers only a very short Eastern stretch. Secondly, the document confirms that only 64% of vehicle traffic is expected to use the new route (furthermore, as mentioned above, the Option F route is likely to induce additional traffic from Flixton/Urmston to the A6144 on this stretch of the road). And, thirdly, the document states that the A6144 is expected to have a design speed of 40mph (discussed below).  All in all, a very misleading suggestion.

Those active travel routes will need to be maintained.  The document suggests that this places a greater burden on Option A but, in fact, the greater burden is on Option F, which will need to provide crossing points and connections between existing PROWs.  These do not appear to be included in the current costings.

The document states (page 6) that both options are expected to have a design speed of 30mph along the existing A1 route and 40mph elsewhere.  This suggests that the A6144 route would be a 40mph road.  We believe this would be dangerous for local residents, particularly because of the high volume of HGVs that will use both routes.  Speed limits on the A6144 should be reduced to 30mph to decrease the risk of collisions, creating less pollution and less congestion.

Know your place! Only disruption for drivers is considered to be an issue!

Whilst we recognise that any work on an existing route (Option A) would be disruptive for vehicle users, if a redesigned Option A is considered, the disruption caused by addressing statutory services and road construction issues will be significantly less than currently estimated. 

The document does NOT consider disruption for anyone other than those driving vehicles.  So, the disruption caused by Option F to users of Carrington Moss, the adults and children who play and train on the sports grounds and the people who live in Sale West, is not even mentioned in the report.  In addition, Trafford’s statement that access and egress for Option F will add minor disruption to Carrington Lane is a massive understatement given that there will be 30% more HGVs for this route option!

The document also suggests that there are minimal receptors to be affected by the noise, vibration and dust nuisance for Option F.  This is also incorrect.  The residents of Sale West will be significantly affected, as will the users of Carrington Moss, including those using the sports grounds.  In addition, there will be a huge environmental impact.  We have significant concerns about the populations of red listed birds and endangered wildlife that breed and feed on the moss.

We also recognise that the current design of Option A results in a preference for Option F from a fluvial flood risk perspective.  It should be noted, however, that if Option A were redesigned in line with the resident views set out above, this would no longer be an issue.  Our proposed Option A would also require fewer materials for construction.  With this in mind, we believe a redesigned Option A would have significantly lower costs for the public purse (and much lower ongoing maintenance costs).

Inconsistencies in the Document!

Trafford do get very confused in their document, which has a number of conflicting statements.  They suggest, for example, that, if Option A is progressed, the active travel facilities that could be provided along the A6144 Carrington Lane will be limited due to constraints but if Option F is chosen, the existing road (ie the A6144 Carrington Lane) will be upgraded to provide active travel provision.  Surely, this would not be possible, due to those constraints!  In addition, this would add to the costs. 

Furthermore, Trafford suggest that, for Option F, active travel provision would be fully segregated from the carriageway.  That is not how the images in Trafford documents show the provision (see the New Carrington Masterplan, figure 4.7 and the graphic above).  In addition, the Options Appraisal document states that due to Option A being longer, Option F would be more desirable for active travel users.  Yet, in confirming Option F is the shorter route, this suggests that active travel routes across Carrington Moss would be the most beneficial for such users, making the redesigned Option A the better solution in this category.  In fact, Option F has far less flexibility for active travel users but this is not highlighted anywhere in the report.

Trafford describes Option F as removing “the majority of the through traffic from a long section of the existing A6144”. This is misleading to the extreme.  It is a very short section of the existing A6144 (which runs from Sale to Warburton).  Whilst, indeed, 64% is the majority of the traffic, the document does not highlight that over a third of vehicles will continue to use the existing route.  In addition, the statement that Option F will reduce vehicle-to-vehicle collisions on the existing road is deceptive because there are likely to be collisions on the route across the Moss AND the existing A6144.

Still trying to understand the Carbon figures!

We have requested the detail behind Table 3 (Carbon Emissions Summary) but have not yet been provided with this input document.  Trafford assert that Option F requires 30% more construction journeys, yet the carbon emissions for Option A are higher than those for Option F.  In addition, we do not believe Option A requires the level of vegetation removal suggested by Trafford, which would significantly reduce the loss of sequestration figures (Table 4).  Furthermore, Trafford does not appear to have captured the total loss of sequestration required for Option F. 

Whilst Trafford states they have only found a “thin layer of peat in an isolated trial hole” the Government has a Strategy to restore England’s peat mosses and any drainage in the vicinity of the huge area of remaining peat on Carrington Moss (325ha in 1995, 3m in depth), could impact its ability to be restored, resulting not only in a loss of future sequestration opportunities, but also the loss of a recognised irreplaceable habitat.

We believe the peat moss at Carrington is capable of restoration and as such, should be treated as an area of high conservation priority.  To propose a road option that could result in such restoration not being possible is, once again, imprudent, especially given Trafford’s declaration of a climate emergency.

More about those Environmental Issues!

We were shocked to discover that the ecological/biodiversity risk does not affect the route option selection, with the document asserting that the ecological impact of Option F can be mitigated and offset by careful planning and early engagement of ecologists.  This is incredibly misleading, especially if the route does impact the irreplaceable habitats mentioned above. 

In any event, the first step in the Government’s Planning Guidance relating to the Natural Environment is Avoidance, with the advice stating “Can significant harm to wildlife species and habitats be avoided; for example by locating on an alternative site with less harmful impacts?”

In this case, yes it can!

Furthermore, it is astounding that Natural England’s feedback is not even mentioned, never mind the document highlighting their view that Option F would be “considerably more damaging” than Option A.  Given that they raise such major concerns about the findings of the desk top study not being fully reflected in the Option Appraisal, that there is “not an accurate representation” of the environmental constraints, that the “environmental risks have not been included“, creating an “inaccurate and unbalanced view of the constraints, we believe this should have been highlighted, not only in the report but also to Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee!

Suggesting that both Options impact the green belt but not then providing the scale of that impact is also highly misleading.  Constructing new carriageways across the green belt will result in a considerably higher level of green belt harm than upgrading the existing road.

The other environmental assessments are incomplete, inaccurate and misleading.  There is no assessment, for example, of the air, noise or light pollution impact on the residents of Sale West, nor on the users of Carrington Moss, including those who train and play on the sports grounds and, specifically, there is no assessment of the impact on the ecology, biodiversity, the birds and wildlife, all of which will be considerably affected by the construction of Option F. 

Referring to the ecological surveys, the document asserts “It is difficult to conclude which route option is more favourable until this survey work is completed”, then continues with confirmation that those surveys will be carried out early in the planning application preparation stage, after the route selection has been made.  This appears to suggest that those ecological surveys will only be carried out on Option F! 

There are other environmental issues too.  We have a problem with the way Option A and Option F are described in ecological terms, and the claim that the proposed attenuation ponds and landscaping areas along the Option F route will enhance the ecological habitats in the area, is bizarre.  Are Trafford aware of how much water will need to be captured?  If not, take a look at our video.  How large will these attenuation ponds be? 

The document confirms that Option F requires 2.5 times more water storage than Option A. Unlike parts of the area required by Option F, the existing road (Option A) is typically not regularly under significant water levels. 

The document suggests that mitigation measures could include installation of a ditch to reconnecting water to the current outfalls, further suggesting that Option F has more flexibility and would provide short-term volume storage for the existing overland flow.  Given the existing ditch system does not contain the surface water, we believe this assessment is too simplistic and that Option F poses a considerable risk of future flooding to homes in Sale West.

A quick reminder of those consultation issues

The Public Engagement feedback was considered in detail in our previous blog which mentioned that there has not yet been any formal consultation on this road and the public engagement to date does not meet Trafford’s Statement of Community Involvement nor the Gunning Principles

Furthermore, Trafford has not followed the approach set out in their own CRR Options Consultation Report (dated 18th December 2020), which stated (paragraph 3.4) that “Once feedback has been collated and categorised, the project team will then host online feedback sessions which tackle individual areas of interest or concern such as traffic congestion, environmental impact, drainage and flooding, and so on. There will then follow a period of analysis and design development work on the shortlisted options, which will seek to address issues raised. Following completion of this work a summary report will be produced setting out the recommended next steps.”

Given the information we have provided in this series of blogs, we believe strongly that there should now be a formal, genuine and robust consultation about the requirements and route of this road, which includes accurate, up-to-date, unbiased assessments of the alterative options (including information about the practical timescales for sustainable transport solutions).

In Conclusion

There are sooooooooooooooooo many other examples we could highlight about this Option Appraisal, but we think you will, by now, recognise that it is not a document that is capable of robustly supporting such an important decision, one which will have such wide ranging impacts on current and future generations of both humans and wildlife. 

As has been shown above, there are a variety of contradictions within the Option Appraisal but there are even more when you consider this document against previous reports on the CRR.  As just one small example, the OA talks about the importance of the directness of the route, suggesting this makes Option F the safer solution.  Yet, in the Public Engagement exercise, Trafford highlighted that the long linear alignment of the A1 may result in speeding and over-taking issues.  Surely this would also be the case for the Option F route across Carrington Moss!

Trafford also suggests that Option F provides greater potential for landscape treatments, creating recreational areas and more opportunities for active travel users.  It will actually reduce all three, harming the existing open, rural, landscape features, fracturing routes across the moss and reducing the ability of local people to use the area for recreational purposes (it will not be pleasant, safe or healthy to visit green space next to a heavily trafficked major road, that is creating significant levels of air, noise and light pollution).  And, all the while, having a substantial impact on bird and wildlife habitats and their populations.

This has clearly not been a genuine appraisal exercise.  Option A was deliberately articulated as an impractical route, when this is not the case.  We believe there are less expensive, less environmentally intrusive options that can be considered by Trafford.   At the very least, resident requests to discuss a revised design should have been accommodated prior to the decision to choose Option F being made.

In addition, the document states that Option A has been “ruled out” based on meeting the requirements of the scheme objectives and in terms of feasible deliverability.  Yet, the assessment of the two options against those scheme objectives is fundamentally flawed, fails to acknowledge the induced traffic concerns raised by TfGM, incorrectly assesses the active travel benefits and contains a number of misleading statements such as the one suggesting that “Option F provides relief to the entire A6144 route for a greater distance”.  This is incorrect, Option F provides “relief” to a very short stretch of the A6144 (with the document confirming that Option F is the shorter route). 

In summary, whilst construction of a brand new road will add capacity in the short term, there has long been evidence that such improvements are quickly eroded by induced traffic.  Trafford should be introducing a scheme which is deliverable without impacting the health and wellbeing of existing or future local residents or further harming the populations of red listed birds and endangered wildlife in the area.  Their scheme should be futureproofed via sustainable passenger and freight transport options, NOT by encouraging more and more vehicles onto local roads.


What are our asks?

We set out our key asks in our previous blog.  Without the information we request, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal. 

For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out the Carrington Link Road page on our website.

Our Struggle to Secure Robust, Genuine Consultation

At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps. 

A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts.  The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by the sheer volume of misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).

This is the fifth in our series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.

This blog focuses on Trafford’s Statement of Community Involvement and resident perception of the “consultation” process.


One of the most interesting parts of the presentation to the Scrutiny Committee was the discussion about public engagement, which many members of the Committee highlighted as a concern. 

One of the aims of the Friends of Carrington Moss is to increase the level of community involvement in decisions related to the future of Carrington Moss, including appropriate levels of timely and genuine community engagement on all planned developments.

Sadly, we have been totally unsuccessful in achieving this goal.  In fact, we’d go further and say that, despite all our efforts, we have not made any difference at all to Trafford’s approach, which is summarised below (this is a recommendation in the Carrington Relief Road (CRR) Update report to Trafford’s Executive on 27th September 2021)

“authorise community engagement and consultations where the Corporate Director deems it necessary or advantageous

Necessary or advantageous to whom?  Trafford has a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).  Shouldn’t the community engagement and consultations be consistent with that document and with the Gunning Principles (see below), against which any legal challenge regarding the consultation will be measured?

The words of Councillor Aidan Williams (Extraordinary Council meeting, Warburton Bridge Toll decision, 13th January 2022), resonate strongly.  Councillor Williams talked about the “huge amount of effort that has been invested by local people, over a vast period of time, into trying to get MSCC to understand the perspective of local residents regarding the toll bridge.  Unfortunately, those efforts have not been rewarded”.

We, and other local groups, have tried to help Trafford to understand the perspective of residents about the New Carrington development, the CRR and the importance of Carrington Moss, without success!

What does the SCI say?

The opening paragraph of Trafford’s current SCI document states that “The planning system in Trafford should be as transparent, accountable and socially inclusive as possible. There should be as many opportunities for successful and meaningful public participation as there can be. Trafford Council wants to have even more effective community involvement, providing opportunities for active participation and discussions with the community as early in the plan-making and planning application processes as possible.”

Well, there is a lot of work to do before Trafford meets this goal.  We have lots of examples of non-compliance around the whole of the New Carrington development but sticking to the topic of the CRR, let’s look at what we have experienced.

On 8th March 2021, the Friends of Carrington Moss, representatives from the Parish Councils and a representative from Peak and Northern Footpaths society met with two members of the CRR Project Team, having sent a list of questions in advance of the meeting.  None of our questions could be answered but the Project Team did manage to clarify some aspects of the scope of their particular phase of the work.

As part of our feedback, following this “engagement” session, we requested the following:

  • A specific workshop on traffic modelling covering the anticipated traffic levels (including HGVs) from both residential and employment sites, including current volumes and all planned and expected growth
  • An active travel workshop at the earliest stage of the WCHAR process
  • A workshop to discuss the design of the two routes in more detail (we mentioned that we have ideas that will make Option A workable, we said we’d also like to ensure the final report is more balanced and highlights all the environmental issues, the costs and the risks related to both options)

Despite chasing this request with the Amey Project Manager in late March 21, we had no response.  We forwarded the request to Trafford’s Director of Growth & Regulatory Services in June 21 and to the Corporate Director of Place in July 21 and we still have had no workshops and no explanation of why such sessions could not be arranged, despite the SCI confirming (paragraph 3.11) that consideration “will be given to requests for Virtual Stakeholder events”.

Among much more guidance for the consultation process, Trafford asserts (in paragraph 3.1) that it will “carry out appropriate consultation during the preparation of plans and supporting documents” and that “Comments will be invited on what these plans should contain, what supporting evidence there should be, what the key issues are and how they can be addressed. Consultation will take place at early stages of the plan-making process and continue throughout. Any comments that are submitted will be considered and taken into account during the next phase of the plan-making process

These assertions are not what has been experienced by residents in relation to the CRR.  We do not believe our comments have been conscientiously considered, nor taken into account.  As an example, we raised a specific question in our response to the Public Engagement which took place in Spring 2021:

Residents believe improvements can be made to the design of Option A.  How can these be fed into the process?” 

We did not receive any feedback and the decision has now been made by Councillors to move ahead with Option F, despite Officers being fully aware that there could be opportunities to ameliorate Option A (a solution which we believe would result in lower costs for the public purse, be less environmentally damaging and more acceptable to local residents).

This is one of many questions from our response that did not make it into the report to the Executive, discussed later in this blog.  We do understand that Officers are working to challenging deadlines, but it is totally unacceptable that our questions and requests have been ignored by both Trafford and Amey.  There are NO forums for residents to input into the plans for the area.

The SCI document states (paragraph 1.3) that “The SCI will guide all community involvement on planning matters in Trafford, ensuring that people know when, how and for what reason they will be able to take part in plan-making and planning application processes.”

Yet, there was clearly a disconnect between what was publicised and what Trafford presented to the Scrutiny Committee (which stated that “The early public engagement exercise aimed to assist in the selection of a preferred route option, calibrate scheme objectives, and to inform the subsequent development”).  Here, the presentation echoes paragraph 3.4 of the Preferred Option Report (7th August 2021) and the report to Trafford’s Executive (27th Sept 2021).

Scrutiny Committee members expressed their surprise that Trafford’s analysis of the 123 responses revealed that “just 21 respondents expressed a preference between Option A (on-line widening) and Option F (new build)”. 

To be clear, residents were specifically told that responses to the public engagement were NOT expected to include preferences about the route option.  The exercise was limited (as explained in Trafford’s leaflet, their website and their news article) to raising any questions residents had about the CRR and the Option Appraisal process. 

Neither the leaflet, which Trafford confirmed had been sent to 10,000 homes and businesses (despite the spelling error) nor the Trafford news article (produced to accompany the launch of the CRR page on their website) suggested that residents were expected to express a preference in relation to the route options. 

Had residents been aware that route option preferences were expected, there would have been a significantly greater number of responses returned!

This public engagement exercise did not provide any questions for residents to respond to, nor was the “event” published on Trafford’s Consultation Portal.  Trafford’s CRR Options Consultation Report (dated 18th December 2020) stated (paragraph 3.3) that “As part of the consultation stage there will be the opportunity for the public to register questions and concerns that will be collated for consideration as part of the next phase of engagement.”

Note: This was NOT a “consultation” stage and there has been no “next phase of engagement”! 

The leaflet also mentioned the next phase of engagement, suggesting it would be “a series of more focused sessions which will answer your questions”.  There has been a deafening silence since this public engagement event.  No information has been forthcoming from Trafford Officers to the community, no frequently asked questions document has been produced and no responses have been received either to our questions or, as mentioned above, to our requests for workshops.

Importantly, none of the public engagement communications to residents suggested that there will be NO statutory consultation on both routes!

Table 5 of the Preferred Option Report (7th August 2021) included the following question:

Q8. When does consultation period start? More information is required about the next steps in the engagement process, particularly when the Frequently Asked Questions document will become available and when the actual consultation about this road will start? Asked 37 times”.  The response to this question was: “Q8. Not applicable to route option selection.”

This is an inappropriate response.  This question IS applicable to route option selection.  Residents expected to be formally consulted on both routes. 

In another question in the same Table, residents asked:

“Q9. How has the decision-making process been conducted to ensure it is as transparent and unbiased as possible? Has an independent review been conducted? Asked 36 times”

The response to this question was “Q9. The decision process for the preferred option is detailed in Section 1.2. of this report. The preferred option will be determined based on the agreed criteria and the reporting and conclusions will be subject to both Amey and Trafford check and sign off procedures.”

Section 1.2 of the report is a summary of the Route Options.  There is no information about the decision-making process in the report.  This is an important question and the decision-making process should have been transparent to residents and to the Scrutiny Committee.

Trafford’s CRR Options Consultation Report (dated 18th December 2020) stated (paragraph 3.4) that “Once feedback has been collated and categorised, the project team will then host online feedback sessions which tackle individual areas of interest or concern such as traffic congestion, environmental impact, drainage and flooding, and so on.”

Residents have not been invited to any such sessions.  There has been no feedback, online or otherwise.  In fact, there is rarely any contact with Trafford that is not instigated by residents! 

Residents have had no involvement in, or input to, either the creation of the proposals/options or the development of a genuine and robust public engagement approach. 

Trafford’s CRR Options Consultation Report (dated 18th December 2020) stated (paragraph 5.1) that “It is recommended that this proposal be accepted to ensure that an open and fair engagement process with the public is carried out and to give the Council the opportunity of further understanding and addressing issues of concern.”

With all the above in mind, along with the points made below, we DO NOT consider that Trafford established

an open and fair engagement process!

Neither has the Council addressed the issues of concern.  In fact, in choosing the route across Grade 2 best and most versatile land, woodland, wetland and peatmoss, rather than hear resident suggestions about how Option A could be improved, the huge levels of concern about the environmental issues (highlighted by Trafford’s Officer) have been significantly exacerbated.

Other issues remain ignored.  As mentioned in our previous blog, residents have been requesting details of traffic numbers for the area for over 2 years, including as part of this exercise, without success.

Has resident feedback enriched the project?

It is not clear that the engagement exercise itself resulted in any changes to the scheme.  There were some surprising anomalies in the resulting Option Appraisal document.  Some examples are outlined below.

The presentation (and para 3.4 of the Preferred Option Report) also stated that the “early public engagement exercise” calibrated and refined the scheme objectives.  It seems that this exercise has resulted in the removal of the objective to provide “Improved public transport and active travel provision to existing areas which are poorly served and to housing and employment growth areas” which was listed as one of the CRR Objectives in the Engagement Presentation. 

Scrutiny Committee members should ask why this change was made and who requested it!

The report to Trafford’s Executive (27th Sept 2021) stated (paragraph 5.1) that “the public engagement process has enabled Trafford Council to enhance and update the required deliverables, having taken on board the issues that have been raised by the community.”

This cannot be correct because the majority of our questions (21 out of 23) were NOT covered by the summary in the Executive report, nor have we had responses to them.  Our response can be found here.

Furthermore, Table 8 (Other Criteria Summary) of the Preferred Option Report (7th August 2021), includes the following under “Engagement Feedback”:

a preferred option has not been identified from the engagement responses”

The table concluded that “No Clear Preference” for the Option was stated.  An astonishing statement, given that residents were not asked to provide their preference, giving rise to considerable concerns about the bias throughout this Preferred Option Report!  This topic will be covered further in a future blog.

The item in the Table goes on to say “This section does however demonstrate the feedback provided has been considered in the overall preferred option selection and there is a requirement for further engagement and consultation prior to submission of the preparation of the planning application.” 

Yet another incorrect and misleading statement. 

As mentioned above, the majority of our questions do not appear to have been considered, there will be no opportunity for residents to respond to a formal consultation on Option A and a decision has been made about the route without any engagement with residents about their ideas to improve Option A. 

It should be noted that giving the option to ask questions (but not get answers) is not engagement.  Engagement is getting residents around the table, finding out what OUR key objectives are, listening to our proposed solutions and acting on them or explaining why this is not possible!

One of our questions related to the objectives of the CRR.  We asked why protecting the health and wellbeing of existing residents is not the number one objective.  Not only did this suggestion not make it to number one on the list of objectives, it did not even make it onto the list itself!

The report to the Executive continues (paragraph 4.8) with the statement “Every comment received has been evaluated in detail and recorded on a response tracker. Many individuals raised a number of points, so their responses were recorded separately in all relevant categories. The team created a list of 11 “standardised questions”, under which response themes could be allocated.”

Not so! 

We raised questions about, for example, other (more sustainable) options that could have been considered (such as the bridge across the Manchester Ship Canal), dualling capacity and the costings.  We also asked (having recognised that the existing option appraisal is quite basic) when will a more detailed review of both options take place?  None of these (and many others) have been included in the report.

In addition, Natural England’s response had some strong words for Trafford – yet these somehow didn’t find their way into either the report or the presentation to the Scrutiny Committee:

Extract from Natural England response 22nd March 2021 (along with Green Claims Code Principles)

Was Trafford only prepared to include information in the Option Appraisal and Committee Reports that supports their predetermined decision to choose the Option F route?  Again, this is an example of the bias demonstrated in that Option Appraisal report.

It should be noted that we have been raising issues about Trafford’s reporting on the CRR for the past 2 years.  Our letter to Trafford’s CEO (28th February 2020) raised numerous issues, including the lack of engagement with residents.  We particularly highlighted the statement that the project “is expected to be managed using PRINCE2 principles” (paragraph 7, Outline Business Case, Executive Summary, December 2019).  In its methodology, PRINCE2 has specific requirements relating to stakeholder engagement and, as residents should be considered to be THE KEY STAKEHOLDER, we were (and still are) keen to understand who our representative on the Programme Board is.  Once again, we have been unsuccessful in our attempts to solicit responses from Trafford in relation to our questions on this matter.

Up to date evidence?

The SCI mentions (paragraph 2.18) that the “Council’s evidence base contains up to date and regularly monitored information from surveys and evidence gathering exercises. The evidence base helps to inform the preparation of planning policies and the contents of plans. Information contained within the evidence base can also highlight the need to prepare or review a plan. Where appropriate, the Council will seek the involvement of relevant groups and organisations in the development of this evidence base so that it has the most reliable and robust information available.”

The graphic below demonstrates the feedback that has been received to date about the New Carrington allocation, which includes the CRR, and our specific petition against roads being built across Carrington Moss.  Residents have consistently disagreed with Trafford’s proposals, yet there has been NO consideration of alternatives, despite the alternative propositions put forward by residents.

And what about our petition?

Councillor Wright mentioned that “you’ve got to bring the communities that already live there on board with all those new homes and all of that change”.  

Newsflash!  Residents do not feel “on board”! 

As our Secretary said to Full Council on 13th October 2021, “Local people feel powerless, fearful, and angry that planning and development feels to be carried out DESPITE rather than FOR community members.”

Councillor Wright mentioned that the majority of the 1,632 signatories of our petition did not live in Carrington or Partington.  We believe we could have significantly increased the number of signatures further had we not been in a pandemic.  Councillor Wright continued, suggesting that the people who are going to be most affected by the road live in Carrington and Partington. 

This is incorrect! 

Whilst Carrington residents may benefit from the opening of the A1 route (if the existing road is closed to HGVs and through traffic), we do not believe Partington residents will see any benefit from the construction of this road, especially given the amount of traffic it is expected to induce into the area.

The disputed part of the CRR (the part which runs across Carrington Moss) will affect the residents of Sale West the most, especially those with children at All Saints Catholic Primary School, who will be particularly impacted by

huge increases in air and noise pollution

It is Sale West residents who will be impacted by any flooding caused by concreting over this part of the Trafford’s largest Natural Capital Asset, and they could also be impacted by large scale vermin infestation when the construction commences.  

The other populations most impacted by the Option F route are the users of Carrington Moss (including the sports professionals and children who play and train there), the horse riders, cyclists and walkers whose routes across the Moss will be fractured (which could lead to serious accidents) and, again, they will be hugely affected by air and noise pollution.  Of course, nature and wildlife will be impacted too, we will cover that in a future blog.

When presenting our petition to Full Council on 13th October 2021, we asked Trafford to consider:

  1. More consultation, we asked for a seat at the table and involvement in the design of the plans for our locality
  2. Genuine and sustainable alternative options to building of roads across Carrington Moss, and
  3. More consideration of the environmental impact of the CRR, especially given Trafford’s declaration of a climate emergency

We have not been offered any of these things, nor have we been told why they cannot be addressed.  In fact, we have had no formal response to our petition from Trafford at all.

In summary

Given all the issues mentioned above, perhaps the Scrutiny Committee could recommend that Trafford activates the option in paragraph 5.26 of the SCI, which states that “In certain circumstances the Council may decide to undertake Re-consultation”.

In the report to the Executive (27th September 2021), Carrington & Partington Transport Infrastructure – CRR Update, the paragraph labelled “Consultation” suggests that the report “sets out in detail how the public have been engaged so far.”

It should be noted that there has, as yet, been NO consultation about the CRR. 

We are delighted that members of the Scrutiny Committee requested that future consultation proposals are reviewed by Scrutiny Committee in advance of publication.  Perhaps that will signal a change in approach?

And Finally

When it comes to consultation, the courts apply a set of rules known as the ‘Gunning Principles’ to decide whether a consultation is lawful.  These Gunning Principles are considered to be fair to both Consultor and Consultee and are increasingly being used to measure the legitimacy of consultations in legal cases.  

We’ll cover compliance with the Gunning Principles in a future blog.  Legal processes are time-consuming and costly for all concerned, even the winners, so let’s hope such action is unnecessary!


What are our asks?

We set out our key asks in our previous blog.  Without the information we request, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal. 

For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out the Carrington Link Road page on our website.

Tell us Trafford, how many vehicles can we expect on local roads?

At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps. 

A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts.  The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by the sheer volume of misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).

This is the fourth in our series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.

This blog focuses on Trafford’s strategic case for the road, particularly the Traffic Numbers.


Given the presentation to Scrutiny Committee, the CRR appears to be seen by Trafford as the panacea to resolving the congestion and route issues highlighted by the Officer.  Yet, as one Scrutiny Committee member mentioned, there has long been strong evidence that new roads bring new traffic, a point which was also acknowledged in the P4E New Carrington Transport Locality Assessment (TLA). 

It does not seem plausible that the CRR will solve any congestion issues, given the disputed planned route across Carrington Moss only replaces a very small portion of the existing A6144, which, like many other roads, is, typically, only congested during rush hour.  In addition, if the A1 service road was opened, end to end, as soon as possible, HGVs and through traffic would have an alternative route, bypassing Carrington Village.  As Trafford Officers are fully aware, this part of the proposal is not disputed.

Trafford’s Officer went on to assert that buses get caught up in the congestion, but, even if bus lanes are created as part of the CRR route across the moss, the rest of the A6144 does not have capacity for bus lanes, which would mean that buses (and other traffic) would be further impacted by the increased congestion caused by the induced traffic on other stretches of the existing road.

Furthermore, in suggesting that a decent bus service is easier to achieve than other forms of public transport, Trafford’s Officer is obviously ignoring the fact that the New Carrington Masterplan only requires developers to be “encouraged” to improve bus accessibility and that the response to our FOI request said “There are currently no committed schemes to improve public transport in this area”.  This is also confirmed in GM’s Transport Delivery Plan, as set out in our previous blog.

He also mentioned that the planned CRR route would create safe provision for cycling!  This is not correct, as pointed out by Councillor Chilton. Cycling and walking routes right next to a very busy major road (which is intended, according to the Option Appraisal, to be a dual carriageway), is unsafe, unhealthy and unpleasant. 

Whilst Trafford’s Officer stated that “it will take time to adjust to a fully sustainable, more low carbon future”, questions should be asked why such sustainable solutions have not been considered as part of the plan for the New Carrington Allocation over the past more than 6 years, whilst the GMSF and the GM Transport Strategy 2040 have been under development? 

As we asked in our earlier blog, is Trafford’s aim to force residents to accept the need for a new road because of their imprudence and inaction?  Despite Trafford’s recognition that the A6144 is already over-capacity, Trafford’s Planning Committee has continuously approved schemes in the area that will significantly increase traffic on local roads

without requiring ANY commitment to fund sustainable passenger or freight transport options!

As highlighted by Councillor Wright, a number of planning applications have been granted over the past 6 or so years, whilst the GMSF and the GM Transport Strategy were under development, which are planning to significantly increase the traffic on the local road networks. This has, effectively, been done by stealth, prior to P4E approval, and without the benefit of a sensible, sustainable, transport plan for the area.

As one member of the Scrutiny Committee mentioned, “if you increase the resident population tenfold and you increase the employment space significant fold, you are going to get more traffic”.

Perhaps Trafford’s Planning Committee was thinking about the GM Transport Strategy 2040’s Right Mix Vision, mentioned by Trafford’s Officer at the Scrutiny Committee meeting. 

This vision is for 50% of trips to be made by sustainable modes, with NO net increase in motor vehicle traffic, by 2040!  To clarify this point, what the Transport Strategy says is that “Achieving the Right Mix is expected to lead to zero net growth in motor vehicle traffic in Greater Manchester between 2017 and 2040”.

With this aspiration in mind, why is Trafford investing hard earned, limited, public money on constructing a new road, rather than planning for, and implementing, sustainable passenger and freight transport options?  The Business Case for this new road must be subject to detailed scrutiny!  In addition, constructing a new road will add to the maintenance costs for Trafford as the existing route will also continue to be operational.

It is incongruous for Trafford’s Officer to imply that anyone is suggesting that “overnight, road transport won’t feature as part of our transport strategy”.  What residents do not expect, however, is that road transport continues to be the ONLY show in town, given Trafford’s declaration of a climate emergency in November 2018 and the production of their Carbon Neutral Action Plan in December 2020.

So, let’s look at the traffic numbers. 

Local residents and schools have undertaken traffic counts at the Isherwood Road junction and the Mersey Farm junction on a number of occasions over the past 3 years.  During rush hour, the Isherwood Road junction sees over 200 HGVs an hour thundering through the traffic lights (with 2 HGVs failing to stop at red on one occasion).  The Mersey Farm junctions sees over 130 HGVs an hour, travelling towards Carrington, at other times during the day.  Residents report significant problems with HGV noise and vibrations throughout the night, disturbing their sleep and resulting in both physical and mental health problems.

These HGVs bring very high levels of air pollution (not just NO2, the target of GM’s Clean Air Zone, but also PM2.5, which will not be addressed by the current CAZ).  Given the lack of sustainable freight transport options, and the continued approval of substantial planning applications, residents will suffer from even more air, noise and light pollution as a direct consequence of Trafford’s decisions. 

The GMSF/P4E TLA suggests that over 70% of the additional traffic created by the planned New Carrington Allocation is expected to use the Carrington Spur, taking those vehicles past a primary school on their journeys to, or from, the motorway (it should be noted that the figure will be 100% of HGVs travelling to/from the Carrington Spur – unless there is a plan for some of those vehicles to drive through Partington or Flixton)!

We were very interested to hear the Trafford Officer state that he would be glad to point Scrutiny Committee members to the detailed transport assessments because Parish Councils and Community Groups in the area have made repeated requests for that information for over the past 2 years without success. 

In July 2021, Carrington Parish Council raised a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request, which was unsuccessful because Trafford confirmed they do not have the information.  What they initially pointed the Parish Council to (in September 2021) was the data contained in a number of planning applications (all of which were then over 2 years old), which the communities have already reviewed, and which does not contain the information requested.

Click on the graphic to go to the FOI request

Trafford also pointed the Parish Council to the New Carrington Transport Locality Assessment (and its addendum), which was one of the P4E documents, and which, again, communities had already reviewed and which, again, does not contain the information requested.

On receipt of this information (21st Sept 2021) the Parish Council immediately responded to Trafford to confirm that the links in their response did not contain the required data and that the information provided was insufficient to satisfy the FOI request.  Trafford responded on 11th October 2021, confirming that the Council does not hold any more traffic count data than that already provided by the links to the planning applications”.

At the Scrutiny Committee, Trafford’s Officer confirmed that more traffic modelling would take place in future phases of the road programme. We think it is unacceptable that the Authority has made a decision about the route of a major new road on the basis of information that is out of date, incomplete and inaccurate.

Councillor Wright suggested that “it’s not realistic to think we are going to get away from road transportation in the next 3 or 4 years”. If there are currently not even any plans to consider sustainable passenger and freight options on the table today, then the move away from road transport will be significantly longer than that, suggesting Trafford’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency is merely words!

As we mentioned in our previous blog, Trafford are progressing a £30m scheme which will only replace a very short section of the A6144, benefiting some drivers for a very short time (see this video for an explanation of this example of Jevons Paradox in action).


What are our asks?

We set out our key asks in our previous blog.  Without the information we request, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal. 

For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out the Carrington Link Road page on our website.

The Carrington Relief Road is “not the only show in town”

Oh, yes it is!

At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps. 

A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts.  The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by the sheer volume of misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).

This is the third in our series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.

This blog focuses on the GM Transport Strategy, its aims and objectives and the specific commitments made in relation to the New Carrington allocation.


The presentation given to Scrutiny Committee stressed that the proposal for the Carrington Relief Road (CRR) is “not the only show in town.  Trafford’s Officer stated that “there are lots of other interventions that are just as important and are also being pursued”, let’s look at what they are!

Just to remind you, New Carrington is the largest housing allocation in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), now known as Places for Everyone (P4E).  It is more than double the size of the next largest allocation and more than 5 times the average of all the allocations in P4E.  In addition, it is almost the largest employment allocation in P4E, and is over twice the size of the average employment allocation across GM.

So, at 5,000 houses, 350,000 m2 (industrial and warehousing) employment space, its huge then! 

Yet, there are NO commitments to any sustainable passenger or freight transport options for that New Carrington proposal! 

And, that is despite the number of years both the Transport Strategy and the GMSF have been under development (both commencing some considerable time before the initial public consultations in 2016). 

Trafford’s Officer confirmed that when the Authority are planning transport improvements, they do so in the context of the wider Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040, and he stated that the CRR is ONE of the projects within the Delivery Plan for that Strategy. 

In reality, the CRR is the ONLY commitment within the Delivery Plan for the huge overdevelopment planned for the New Carrington Allocation area.  With the GM Transport Delivery Plan confirming that

Here’s what the IS in that
GM Transport Delivery Plan

In February 2020 Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) commissioned AECOM to undertake a review of public transport opportunities for the Carrington development site.  This study did not involve any community inputs and, once again, existing residents were not intended to be the primary beneficiaries (the document sets out that the “key objective of the study is to identify solutions which primarily serve the development site”). 

As one Carrington resident put it “Did they forget the existing residents?”

It seems that, despite Councillor Wright’s assertion that “you’ve got to bring the communities that already live there on board with all those new homes and all of that change” there has been no effort to do so, either in terms of consultation or consideration of needs.  A future blog will review the consultation elements of the planned new road in detail.

In addition, there are over 1,000 horses stabled in the New Carrington area.  This community, and their supply chain, bring economic benefits to Trafford, yet there is no mention of their requirements, nor the consequence of fracturing their existing riding routes with this planned road.  Riding in the vicinity of a large number of motor vehicles is, again, unhealthy, unsafe and unpleasant.

The Vision set out in that
GM Transport Strategy 2040 is admirable!  

But can the economic growth planned for New Carrington be described as sustainable?  We don’t think so, take a look at our previous blog to find out more.

The quality of life for existing residents in this area will NOT be improved by the New Carrington Masterplan, in fact, the opposite will occur, especially given the huge increase in air, noise and light pollution residents face.

Carrington Moss is Trafford’s largest Natural Capital asset, yet protecting the environment was glossed over in one sentence at the Scrutiny Committee, with Trafford’s Officer suggesting that there is an opportunity to address environmental concerns through careful design.  We think that is naïve to the extreme, especially given Natural England’s comments about the planned route, and those environmental issues will also be discussed in a future blog in this series.

The GMSF and the GM Transport Strategy have matured over the same period, with the documents suggesting that “significant work” has been undertaken to develop GM’s spatial planning in alignment with the Transport Strategy and the associated Delivery Plan.  The documents emphasise that that “Preventing increased congestion will need more people to travel by public transport or to walk or cycle, and fewer goods vehicles on our roads during peak periods.  This will require a significant improvement in the alternatives, providing more capacity and creating a flexible, integrated transport network that meets customer needs”.  Yet, for the New Carrington development, NO effort has been made over those past several years, to develop any sustainable passenger or freight transport options.  So, what “significant work” has been carried out in relation to this development?

Producing a plan that has no sustainable passenger or freight transport options cannot be described as innovative.  As members of the Scrutiny Committee identified, there have been a significant number of missed opportunities to create a much bolder plan, which takes advantage of local rail and water-based assets!  The Parish Councils and local Community Groups have identified a number of alternative sustainable transport options but there is no forum for us to discuss them with Trafford and there has been no appetite from Trafford Officers to explore alternatives to the Carrington Relief Road.

The P4E Vision is similarly commendable, with ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2038, “where the past dependency on the car is superseded by a reliable and responsive public transport system”.

Again, a laudable objective, but there is no plan to implement this in New Carrington, where, despite Trafford’s assertion, the road IS the only show in town for passenger and freight traffic and, as can be seen from the table above, alternatives are not even being investigated!


What are our asks?

We set out our key asks in our previous blog.  Without the information we request, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal. 

For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out the Carrington Link Road page on our website.

Is it necessary to build on green belt in Trafford (or elsewhere in GM)?  The short answer is NO!

At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps. 

A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts.  The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by the sheer volume of misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).

This is the second in our series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.

This blog focuses on the Places for Everyone Plan and the specific New Carrington Allocation.


The presentation given to Scrutiny Committee appeared to suggest that the proposal for the Carrington Relief Road in the 2012 Core Strategy instigated the huge development known as New Carrington.  This does not seem plausible because, as noted in our previous blog, the road proposed in the 2012 Core Strategy was clearly much less intrusive than the current scheme and did not intend to decimate local green belt.

The presentation continued with information about the number of homes and employment space to be constructed in the area but failed to mention that 169 hectares of green belt will be released to make way for these plans.  That is the equivalent of over 236 football pitches of peatland, wetland, woodland and grade 2 best and most versatile agricultural land that will no longer be available for future generations, not a sustainable solution! 

It should be noted that the Places for Everyone proposals have NOT yet been approved, including the New Carrington Allocation, and will be subject to an Examination in Public later in 2022.  Given this, questions should be asked about why Trafford are incurring expenditure through the acceleration of a project for a Relief Road, at this time of huge challenges for the public purse, when the primary aim (see GM Transport Strategy 2040) of that project is to support growth plans that have not yet been approved.

The Proposals

Whilst we welcome the reductions made to the New Carrington Allocation by Trafford’s leaders, we believe the development in Carrington, Partington and Sale West remains excessive. 

The proposals for this one Ward (Bucklow St Martins) equates to over 20% of Trafford’s planned housing development for the next 16 years! 

With a population increase for Partington of almost 72%, this is not a sustainable approach, but before we dig deeper into the plans for New Carrington, let’s look at this Regional Strategy now known as Places for Everyone. 

Is the decision to release 2,430 hectares of green belt (the equivalent of 3,403 football pitches) across the Region necessary? 

We don’t think so – read on to find out why.

GM’s leaders had the opportunity to choose from a number of spatial options for the Region, some of which did NOT require the release of green belt. 

The Region is planning to build homes to meet the needs of an additional 450,000 people against an estimated natural population increase of 158,200.  Of course, some growth would be expected but this rapid expansion of GM’s population is disproportionate, damaging and unsustainable.

It should be noted that ONS recently issued the latest population statistics (12th Jan 2022), which confirmed that the downward trend in projected UK population growth since 2016 is continuing.  It is no surprise that the 2020-based population growth is, once again, slower than in the previous projections.

The available land supply across the GM Region (without the release of green belt) equates to 170,000 homes (which could meet the needs of over 400,000 people), more than sufficient to provide growth, along with flexibility and choice for both developers and customers.  It is also adequate to meet the Government’s mandated housing need figure (without releasing any green belt land).

With these figures in mind, it is clear, there is NO justification to release green belt land anywhere in Greater Manchester.

So, why didn’t our leaders choose a spatial strategy aligned with their declarations of a climate emergency (made by all GM’s public bodies)? Did they fully understand the implications of all the options on the table?
The Public Transport Max spatial option is a better fit for GM’s contemporary needs.

What is in the New Carrington Masterplan?

The brownfield land in Carrington already has planning approval, as do the plots shown as PR4A in the graphic above (Heath Farm Lane). 

Trafford has continued to commit to overdeveloping the area, granting planning applications despite resident concerns (particularly about the number of HGVs on local roads) and the lack of sustainable transport options. 

Trafford acknowledges there is a major problem with HGV traffic in the area, yet, given their very positive approach to growth,

it is hard to understand why Trafford has not, OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS, progressed ANY option for passenger and freight transport other than the Carrington Relief Road.

Trafford’s officer mentioned that it had taken 100 years to become reliant on road transport.  Does Trafford plan to take 100 years to start working on some sustainable solutions for the area, or is the aim to force residents to accept the need for a new road because of imprudence and inaction? We’ll examine the Option Appraisal for that new road in a future blog in this series.

Impending decisions are all about building on the 169 hectares of green belt!

As we set out in our open letter to all Trafford Councillors in advance of their decision to approve the Places for Everyone Plan, there are a number of inequities for Trafford residents and particularly for those who live in Carrington, Partington and Sale West, as a direct consequence of agreeing these proposals. Not least of which is the loss of access to green space and, therefore, to nature.  There is also (for example) lack of access to affordable homes (only 15% in total for New Carrington), to local schools (where are they?) and to a diverse range of jobs (only industrial and warehousing on this site).  And then there are the risks, such as exposure to harm from hazardous businesses, flooding, vermin infestation and increased air, noise and light pollution.  We’ll say more about these issues in a future blog.

Given its location, these plans will see Carrington become a traffic island in a sea of air pollution and the current green lungs of the area, Carrington Moss, will no longer be there to help disperse all that polluted air. 

During the presentation, Trafford’s officer suggested that the Carrington Relief Road would take traffic away from the very narrow and congested A6144. This is not the case. As was pointed out by one member of the Scrutiny Committee, new roads bring new traffic. This was acknowledged in the P4E documentation in relation to the Carrington Relief Road (Transport Locality Assessment paragraph 11.2.3). Based on what has happened in other locations, it is highly likely additional traffic will be attracted to use both the new road AND the existing A6144!

It should be recognised that there is no dispute about opening up the A1 road (end to end), and that could be explored immediately. HGV and through traffic should be prevented from using the A6144 through Carrington Village but Trafford has NOT committed to this, which means residents will suffer the harmful effects of traffic on both roads. This approach will not achieve the desired aim of improving the reliability of public transport timetables either.

Like most other major roads in Trafford, and beyond, the A6144 is only busy during rush hour. So, instead of introducing sustainable passenger and freight transport solutions, that would benefit the whole community, Trafford are progressing a £30m scheme which will only replace a very short section of the A6144, benefiting some drivers for a very short time (see this video for an explanation of this example of Jevons Paradox in action).

This new section of road is close to the Carrington Spur, so we are at a loss to understand the benefits to Partington residents that Trafford has suggested will be transformational! The road will cause significant air, noise and light pollution to the residents of Sale West, affecting the children at All Saints Catholic Primary School, the users of Carrington Moss and, of course, the red listed birds and endangered wildlife that breed and feed here.

What Trafford’s Masterplan says about Transport in New Carrington

Carrington and Partington suffer from relative isolation from the wider urban area of Greater Manchester. New Carrington provides the opportunity to make strategic highway interventions, for both the car and bus; significant upgrades to public transport; and enhancements for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders resulting in a much more sustainable community for established and new residents”.

It might provide “the opportunity” but there are NO planned upgrades to public transport. 

The only commitment is to the Carrington Relief Road, despite the promises made in previous Local Plans.  No trams, no trains (despite the former railway line running right into Carrington and Partington) and no water-based transport (despite the proximity of the Manchester Ship Canal). 

Trafford insist the road is “not the only show in town” but for passenger and freight transport, it certainly is! 

In fact, in relation to public transport, what Trafford’s document says is that“improving bus accessibility to New Carrington, Altrincham, and Sale should be encouragedand the response to our FOI request said:

“There are currently no committed schemes to improve public transport in this area.”

Residents have been waiting for public transport enhancements for 15 years! Isn’t it time our Council did more than “encourage” provision and makes those improvements a priority, and a reality, along with sustainable freight options?


What are our asks?

We set out our key asks in our previous blog.  Without the information we request, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal. 

For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out the Carrington Link Road page on our website.

What was promised for Carrington, Partington and Sale West in previous Trafford Local Plans and Strategies?

At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps. 

A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts.  The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).

This is the first in series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.

This blog focuses on what was said in Trafford’s previous documents about the Carrington Relief Road and the area the proposed preferred option will destroy.


At Scrutiny Committee, members were told that delivering transport improvements in this area has been Council policy for 10 years.  It has, in fact, been Council policy since at least the publication of the Unitary Development Plan in 2006.  The Council recognised almost 20 years ago that public transport improvements are core to the regeneration of Carrington, Partington and Sale West. 

Yet, these promised improvements have NOT been provided. 

Sadly, in this part of the Borough, Policy L4.5 has not been delivered at all.  Worse still, since the publication of the Core Strategy in 2012, services have reduced even further and have continued to decline over recent years.

Getting the huge volume of HGVs off our roads is a priority for local residents and will be discussed further in another blog in this series.  Trafford’s previous documents mentioned opportunities to relieve the traffic in the area by building a bridge across the Manchester Ship Canal between Carrington and Irlam.  This would enable local companies to move their goods via Irlam Wharf and the Manchester Ship Canal or via Port Salford, which will also be a rail freight terminal.  Very sustainable options.

Yet, where are Trafford’s proposals for the bridge?  What work have they done to move this option forward since 2006?

The 2012 Core Strategy said “a Manchester Ship Canal crossing will be subject to further investigation”.

We made an FOI request and only received information back about the community proposal for this option!

Another member of the Scrutiny Committee suggested Trafford’s plans were not bold enough.  Whilst recognising there would need to be significant investment, he particularly highlighted reopening the former railway line as a potential sustainable solution. 

The lack of consideration for reintroducing rail for passengers and freight in this area has not always been a problem for Trafford.

It seems it is only the current proposition that has removed all the sustainable options from the development plan (other than providing walking and cycling routes next to major roads).

We’ll say more about the traffic numbers in a future blog, in the meantime –

what did that Core Strategy document say about the Carrington Relief Road. 

Well, the document does say (SL5.2) that the new road infrastructure would “serve the development area to relieve congestion on the A6144”.  

The document also says (para 8.73) that the development area will be “accessible by a choice of transport modes”.  There was choice in 2006 and 2012.  Not just a less intrusive road, but also consideration of the bridge and rail and a plan for public transport improvements.  It was expected that these options would “significantly improve transportation links to the Strategic Road Network, Metrolink and cross conurbation to Salford” and there is a recognition that such measures would be needed to mitigate the impact of the development on both local roads and the motorways.

BUT

There is nothing to suggest the proposed road was expected decimate grade 2 agricultural land, woodland, wetland and peat moss. 

In fact, Trafford’s previous documents were insightful.  It does seem that there was a recognition of the importance of Carrington Moss, from ecological, biodiversity and heritage aspects.

Carrington Moss is a huge asset to Trafford and should continue to be protected as such. 

The ecosystem services it provides are extensive and, in some cases, irreplaceable.  More about these in a future blog.

Going back to the meeting, Scrutiny Committee members were told the preferred route would go across the fields. 

It needs to be recognised that these “fields” are Grade 2, best and most versatile, agricultural land

(as identified in GM’s land classifications – see Mapping GM, include a layer search for Agricultural Land Classification).

The Council has previously committed to protecting such land, recognising its value to the local economy. 

Of course, since Trafford’s declaration of a climate emergency in November 2018, the protection of this land should have been enhanced as it offers the potential for the future provision of local sustainable food sources.

Furthermore, the 2012 Core Strategy refers to Government Guidance.

Let’s look at the current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guidance in relation to conserving and enhancing the local environment!

So, in summary, it seems the proposed transport improvements for Carrington, Partington and Sale West have not been taken forward since 2006, yet Trafford’s Planning Committee has repeatedly approved developments that have, and will continue to, significantly increase the traffic on local roads, to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of existing residents.

Whilst Trafford’s Officer said that “the road is not the only show in town”, there are no other proposals on the table.  No trains, no trams, no water-based freight or passenger transport and no additional bus services.  We have checked this via an FOI request, for which the response was

“There are currently no committed schemes to improve public transport in this area.”

What are our asks?

As we have requested previously, we’d like to see the scheme paused until all stakeholders have been appropriately consulted and their views are able to be properly included in the options appraisal

We’d like to see our carbon footprint and the climate emergency taking a more meaningful part of the option appraisal

We’d like to see the options reviewed to allow for less expensive, less environmentally intrusive alternatives to be considered (with entirely separate active travel routes).

In addition:

Trafford’s declaration of the climate emergency in November 2018 agreed to “consider, systematically, the climate change impact of each area of the Council’s activities”.  We’d like to see the assessment that has been undertaken in relation to this road and the premise under which it is not only continuing but is now considered to need to be a dual carriageway!
Trafford appears to be wedded to an outdated plan to implement a carbon-hungry new road, to the exclusion of all potential opportunities to reduce the number vehicles on our roads. We would like to see these alternatives fully evaluated alongside the proposals for the road.  We recognise that Trafford’s lack of consideration for these options has resulted in a timing issue, but we believe there are ways to alleviate the existing traffic problems, without destroying our green belt. 
There are huge gaps in the information needed to determine the most appropriate approach to resolving the traffic issues in the area.We would like to see a more comprehensive evaluation which includes an assessment of the natural capital assets in the area, the detailed traffic numbers and a review of the carbon implications.

Without the information mentioned above, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal. 

For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out our website.

Charging – the lazy, unsustainable, ineffective way to reduce air pollution!

There are alternatives to the planned GM Clean Air Zone!


A new facebook page has attracted over 35,000 members in less than a month, over 10,000 people
joined in the last week alone, and the site generated over 1,000 new posts on just one day.


So, in facing the fall out from the extensive opposition to the introduction of the GM Clean Air Charge, GM’s Mayor Andy Burnham and the Region’s Air Quality Lead, Andrew Western (also Leader of Trafford Council) issued a statement yesterday. Does it help?  In a word – NO!

We won’t cover the what and the why in relation to Air Pollution here.  You all know it is very harmful to our health (from the cradle to the grave), that there are a number of dangerous (killer) pollutants that you cannot see in the air and that there are a range of sources, including road traffic – click on the graphic for more info.

The Government requires GM to meet the legal limits for Air Pollution.  The introduction of the scheme to achieve that aim is for Local Authorities and the Mayor of GM to determine.

Yet, only one solution has been proposed

– the GM Clean Air Zone, which will see a number of users charged to use local roads, a Clean Air Zone with a number of flaws!

So, what about the alternatives???

What GM should be implementing is a GM Transport Strategy that incorporates the introduction of genuinely sustainable passenger and freight transport options that will actually reduce the number of vehicles using our roads.

That means affordable, reliable and frequent public transport that covers all corners of the GM landscape, alternatives to the ever-increasing numbers of HGVs on our local roads and prioritising active travel users.

Yet, having led the development of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework since 2017, Mayor Burnham has not insisted on sustainable transport being at the core of the proposals. 

Look at New Carrington as an example.  The plan is to build 5,000 homes, 350,000 m2 employment space (all industrial and warehousing) and to construct 4 major new roads, all on, across and/or around a peat moss, wetland, woodland and grade 2 agricultural land. 

And to support all this development, what sustainable passenger and freight transport options are being proposed – NONE/ZERO/NADA!

Yep, you got it!  NONE/ZERO/NADA!

No passenger or freight trains, despite former railway lines running right through the site.

No passenger or freight water transport, despite the location being right next to the Manchester Ship Canal.

No additional bus services (we’ve checked via an FOI request), despite the recognition in the 2006 UDP and the 2012 Core Strategy that improving public transport is essential to the regeneration of the area (and since those plans were published, our bus services have actually reduced)!

Do the decision-makers understand the problems?

It doesn’t seem so! 

The commentary on that new facebook page identifies the key concerns of residents and businesses. 

Many small businesses, already impacted by the pandemic, say they will not survive, or will have to make staffing cuts, causing real hardship to local families.

And, even if businesses can survive the introduction of these charges, they will be passed on to the consumer, at a time when it is recognised that the most vulnerable in our society are already suffering from increased prices of food, energy and other essential goods and services.

Businesses are also reporting that the financial support scheme is not fit for purpose but, even if it was, supply chain issues mean the vehicles are not available to buy or lease!

People are also asking, what happens to all that money that will be collected, where will it go, what will it fund?  Perhaps a new section should be added to the Clean Air GM website to explain!

We don’t think so – NO!

Why?  Because all the vehicles paying the charge will still be emitting the pollution (and, crucially, the charge does not result in fewer vehicles being on the road)!

Neither will the charge result in transformational modal change, which should, of course, have been the primary objective of a solution to the air pollution problem (remember, other Air Pollutant Limits are being breached too).

What is the answer?

Clearly a major revision of the GM Transport Strategy is needed but in the meantime ……………………..

Get your residents around the table, Mayor Burnham.  Listen to their ideas, listen to how your plans will impact them and listen to what is important to them. 

They ARE your key stakeholders!!!

And finally, in relation to Air Pollution!

The Community Planning Alliance (an umbrella organisation for over 550 community groups all campaigning against inappropriate development) ran the first of a series of workshops last month to engage communities more actively in the air pollution/air quality debate.  If you missed it, you can see the recording at this link.

Their next session (8th February) will focus on local measuring and monitoring of air pollution.  Click on the graphic below to register. All are welcome.

Betrayal of the North – an opportunity for change?

The HS2 Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the North and Midlands has rightfully resulted in a furious backlash from Northern politicians, of all colours, for many reasons, most of which will be the subject of countless commentary over the coming weeks.  There’ll be analyses on the relative spend between the “North” and the “South”, the broken promises, how this decision fits with the “levelling up” agenda and much, much more.

But let’s not talk about the Government’s fixation with journey times, nor about the routes that will (or will not) be delivered, or whether guidance from experts has been ignored. 

Blah, Blah, Blah

Let’s talk about how they feel, those Northern leaders, who are, justifiably, very, very angry, about this “betrayal of the North3”!

Like the brochures produced to justify unsustainable development, there is lots of blah, blah, blah in the IRP about the benefits to commuters and communities of the Government’s “woefully inadequate1” plan.

Transport for the North (TfN) have asserted that the leaders of the North, from across the party-political divide, “have worked hard to come up with an evidence-led plan to help reverse the chasm of under investment1”.  

Many campaigners have done that too, putting lots of effort into developing evidence-based Alternative Strategies for our areas (one example from the Friends of Carrington Moss can be found at this link), and many of us have had those inputs, that are created in our own time, with our own money, totally ignored.

Cutting out local people

But the slashed route plans are not all.  My reading of the document suggests that the Government plans to exclude the Northern leadership from decision making and programme direction.  

The report states that:

One key lesson from other projects of this scale is the vital importance of leadership, clear accountabilities and simple client relationships. Splitting these roles in delivery risks failure. TfN is also a relatively small and young organisation with no experience of clienting a project of this scale through detailed development or delivery, and little or no ability to bear financial risk”.2

A stark stigmatisation of the capability of TfN, something residents from the vast talent pool involved in the planning ecosystem face regularly from a range of commentators who do not value contributions from citizens, whatever expertise they may have.

The document goes on to say the HS2 delivery partners will be managed by a single team, answerable to the Secretary of State, to whom Northern leaders will continue to have “direct and regular access”! 2 

A huge blow for those who feel (quite rightly) that Northern leaders should be driving the initiative in their area.  They are, though, still considered to be a sponsor, albeit with very little power and, seemingly, no influence.

Community groups feel the same

We, who don’t even have a seat at the table in local discussions, totally understand their frustration.  In our areas, we are the ones with local knowledge, we are the ones who fully comprehend the impact (both environmentally and economically) and we are the ones who will be most affected by the plans. 

Yet some politicians have repeatedly denied we are key stakeholders, have refused to engage with residents in a genuine and meaningful way, denying us the opportunity to input to plan-shaping and relegating our role to reading and reviewing copious documents, filled with jargon, misleading information and missing data. We are lucky to even get a response to our emails and our pleas to be involved are continuously ignored.

Comments from politicians of all Parties confirm how “bitterly disappointed3” they are, how “completely shortchanged3” they feel.  With academics also suggesting the revised plans leave the North with “the worst of all worlds3”, the echoes of our own protests are bellowed back at us in remonstration.  Greater Manchester’s Mayor stated “what about the people’s grandchildren and great grandchildren4”.  What indeed?  The Save Greater Manchester’s Green Belt group has been asking exactly that question given his plans to unnecessarily release over 2,430 hectares of green belt in the region.

Absolute Power – it isn’t just a northern problem!

So, it is clear, we within the Community Planning Alliance, comprising more than 530 community groups, all campaigning against inappropriate development, can fully empathise with the emotions of these enraged politicians.

But, will the experience of this, the opposite of localism, help THEM recognise the trauma and torment we feel every single day, exhausted by the lack of power, influence and voice citizens have within the planning ecosystem?

More importantly, will it make any difference?  

The Community Planning Alliance hopes they are listening and will continue to lobby for change!

Links:

  1. Councillor Louise Gittins, Interim Chair of Transport for the North (TfN newsletter 19/11/21)
  2. Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands page 150
  3. Guardian article 18th November 2021 Betrayal of the North
  4. BBC article 19th November 2021 HS2: New plan a betrayal of the North, say critics

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