Environmental impact of bypass was toned down in report, claims councillor
A business case report on a proposed bypass for Sudbury was altered to play down its environmental impact on the town's surrounding countryside, a county councillor has claimed.
Green Party councillor Robert Lindsay said that in a original environmental report of the proposal, consultants concluded that the impact of the bypass would “far outweigh” positive effects from reduced congestion in the town.
The wording in that report, which was written in March 2017 and never made public, was changed in the final ‘Outline Business Case’ – which was then published – to read that the proposed bypass “may outweigh” any benefits.
Suffolk County Council said the original report covered initial thoughts at an early point while the outline business case is a summary of all relevant factors.
The authority said it is committed to sharing results of further investigations.
The original report was released this week under a Freedom of Information request.
Mr Lindsay said: “The published report was used to great fanfare to claim that there was a good case for building a new road over Sudbury’s water meadows.
“We know learn that it is a dodgy dossier. Basically, the consultants were ordered by the county council to alter their conclusions.
“Their original conclusion would have killed the project, rightly, there and then without a penny more being spent.
“But as a result of the massaged report being published, the Public Sector Leaders Group agreed a few months later to spend £600,000 of Suffolk business rate payers’ money on a more detailed study.
“If they had seen the original, unaltered environmental report, I very much doubt they would have agreed to it.
“This seems to show that far from being the neutral bystander that it is pretending to be, the county council as a body has an ideological drive to push through this road project at almost any expense to the taxpayer and to the beauty and tranquillity of the countryside.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “The original environmental report covers initial thoughts at an early point of assessment, whereas the outline business case brings together a summary of all the relevant factors such as air quality and the effects on the built-environment as well as the natural environment.
“Further and more extensive investigations have taken place since the outline business case was produced and additional work is now being undertaken to look at all options for relieving traffic congestion in Sudbury.
“The council is committed to sharing the results of its investigations with stakeholders and is planning a public consultation later this year.”