Stratford St Andrew/Farnham: A12 health hazard report revives bypass campaign
- Credit: Andrew Partridge
Campaigners for an A12 bypass in east Suffolk say a new report revealing “unacceptable” pollution levels in the area has strengthened their case.
Pressure has been mounting for the long-awaited road to divert the A12 around Stratford St Andrew, Farnham, Marlesford, and Glemham – particularly if the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station gets the final green light.
It is hoped EDF Energy will agree to help fund the new road if its proposed power plant is built. Currently, it is only proposing to build a smaller bypass at Farnham and other traffic calming measures.
Now it has emerged, in a report from Suffolk Coastal District Council, that the area is a “pollution hotspot”, with air quality particularly bad.
The district council’s cabinet member for the green environment, councillor Andrew Nunn, has pledged to tackle the problems identified in Stratford St Andrew, but said the authority is treating the bypass as a separate issue.
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At a meeting last night, members of Farnham with Stratford St Andrew Parish Council said they feared the opportunity to lobby based on the new health risk had gone to waste.
“This is what’s been happening since 2011 and it’s still over the threshold and still nothing is happening,” said parish clerk Debbi Tayler.
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District council representative Phillip Dunnett said the report could be a “useful tool in our armoury” even though he admitted the authority’s current approach was to treat the matter separately.
“The easiest solution, as we all know, is the bypass,” he added.
Those in the village worst affected by the pollution had also hoped for a more far-reaching solution.
Esther Naylor, whose cottage is one of four along Long Row, Main Road, to be identified as at risk, said she felt “angry and frustrated” that her daughters’ health had been put at risk, after her youngest, who sleeps in the roadside bedroom, developed a nasty cough.
“We’ve been fobbed off for years and years, with no compromise and no offer of help,” she said.
Farnham resident Peter Norris has highlighted a “build up of filth” that has accumulated throughout the village as evidence the pollution is more widespread and therefore warrants the bypass.
“All these different ideas come along but everybody knows that there’s only one real solution,” he said.
Having lived on the “bad bend” for the past 18 years, where dozens of accidents have taken place, Mr Norris also feels the dangers alone should justify a bypass.
“You take your life in your hands every time you try to walk from one end of the village to the other,” he said.
“It’s absolutely intolerable and inexcusable to have this amount of traffic running through a road of this dimension.
“They’ve promised short term measures to do something about it but here we are still waiting - it’s quite pathetic.”
The EADT’s Bypass for the Villages campaign is also calling for a relief road to be built in a bid to ease the traffic misery.
Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet has now declared the area an Air Quality Management Area and will seek final approval from DEFRA before drawing up an action plan. Mr Nunn has assured residents that the pollution will be tackled, possibly by extending the 30mph zone, so vehicles do not begin to accelerate until well after leaving the village, though he has dismissed any suggestion of linking with the bypass campaign.
Suffolk County Council has called for funding from EDF to contribute to the costs of a bypass in compensation for the likely burden on the roads posed by the opening of the third nuclear plant.
“Suffolk County Council recognises this concern in Stratford St Andrew - which adds further weight to the campaign we are running with the district and parish councils to get a four villages bypass built,” a spokesman said.
“In this case, air pollution levels are just above that which trigger concern. Needless to say, construction traffic associated with Sizewell C, should it be built, would exacerbate the problem.”
An EDF spokesman said the company was “proposing a wide range of measures to reduce the impact of Sizewell C traffic on the A12” including rail and park and ride.
“We are continuing our transport studies and will be carrying out further consultation with the public on our proposals before our application for a development consent order is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate,” they added.