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We have joined with other countryside campaigners to condemn the call by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg for improvements to the A628 Woodhead Pass as part of a package to improve connectivity between Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. The raft of measures, currently being investigated by the Highways Agency and the Department for Transport (DfT), would cause significant damage to national park landscapes and European nature conservation sites.

We commissioned research from the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit (MTRU) that shows connectivity can be significantly improved without the need for damaging new road building. However MTRU’s proposed alternative demand management package including routing HGVs via the M62 and other ‘smarter choices’ measures has been rejected without proper testing by DfT officials, contrary to the Government’s own WebTAG guidance.

“We are solidly behind measures that will improve journey times across the Pennines but the best way to do this is by considering road and rail holistically” said FPD Director Andy Tickle, “Resurrecting this tired and unsustainable road scheme will do little to help whilst causing immense damage to the Peak District National Park”.

The Campaign for National Parks has added its voice to the criticism of proposals. Ruth Bradshaw, Policy and Research Manager said: “This proposal completely goes against the Government’s own policy on road building in National Parks and would cause huge damage to England’s oldest National Park.”

The current policy on presumption against development is set out in the UK Government Vision and Circular for English National Parks and the Broads 2010 which states that ‘there is a strong presumption against any significant road widening or the building of new roads through a Park, unless it can be shown there are compelling reasons for the new or enhanced capacity and with any benefits outweighing the costs very significantly. Any investment in trunk roads should be directed to developing routes for long distance traffic which avoid the Parks.’

The full MTRU report is available on request or can be downloaded here.