TrustNews August 1987

 

M3 - Stop Press

 

The declared purpose of the (partially) re-opened Inquiry is to hear any new evidence which the Countryside Commission, English Heritage and others may wish to submit. During the procedural meeting held on 23rd July the new Inspector stressed that his terms of reference did not permit him to hear any evidence that had been submitted already, even though, as objectors were quick to point out, much significant evidence (as well as points won in cross examination) had not been recorded by the previous Inspector.

 

This handicapping of objectors who appeared at the 1985 Inquiry does not apply to the Countryside Commission or English Heritage,' who did not appear.

 

English Heritage (also known as the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England - HBMC) is an objector to the Department's preferred route which involves a cutting through Twyford Down. It says it will not be proposing an alternative route. However, it will be providing an assessment of the historical and archaeological importance of a number of sites, including the water meadows, Itchen Navigation, railway, A33 line, Plague Pits, St. Catherine's Hill and Twyford Down complexes and Saxon finds. In carrying out this assessment, it says it will be guided by the non-statutory criteria of importance approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment (Deposited Library Document HBMC 5).

 

There is a grave danger that English Heritage's assessment, although based purely on criteria related to historical and archaeological importance, could encourage the Inspector to recommend that a By-pass route is more acceptable than the Twyford Down cutting.

 

The Countryside Commission will be proposing an alternative route. This follows the line of the existing A33 between St. Catherine's Hill and the Itchen Navigation, passes across the entrance to Plague Pits Valley on the alignment of the A33 and then crosses the Itchen Valley on an alignment similar to the Department's published route, except that it goes under, instead of over, the railway.

 

In common with other proponents of a By-pass route, the Countryside Commission has failed to satisfy the Trust on a number of points, including the following very important ones: (1) How can the motorway be constructed on the line of the A33 without causing traffic to divert through Winchester? (2) What will happen when - as seems likely from the Department's traffic forecasts - there is pressure for further road capacity?

 

Since the contraflow and other problems associated with construction works on the line of the A33 will delay traffic and increase accident rates substantially (in the region of 400%), diversions are certain to occur. If the tunnel option is adopted such problems will not arise during construction of the Winchester section.

 

Unlike the By-pass route, the tunnel option imposes an immense physical constraint to further widening. With this option, if additional road capacity is ever needed, it will almost certainly have to be provided on an entirely different route.

 

In the Trust's view, the tunnel option is the only satisfactory way of getting the motorway past Winchester. Members who support the Trust's opposition to the Twyford Down cutting are urged to give active support to JAG's proposals for twin tunnels on an improved alignment and a lowering of the route to the south. They should avoid being gulled into supporting a Bypass route, which would be terribly damaging to the City and its setting.

 

Please support JAG with your money, with your letters and with your presence at the re-opened Inquiry.