CPREssex Press Release on the New A120 Proposals Between Braintree and Marks Tey

CPREssex accept that having made the mistake of not extending the rail link from Braintree to Stansted and building a new damaging road instead, the extension to Marks Tey was inevitable. However, we must protest at the appalling land take of the preferred route. While Bradwell and Marks Tey may think that they have done well, in fact this is far from the case, because they will never be bypassed and will suffer the inevitable build up of traffic after the scheme is completed. The HA do not draw attention to the huge land take of the A12 improvements. CPREssex regard the land take at either end as excessive and believe that the route should stay much closer to the present line, unless major development of Marks Tey or Bradwell is proposed for the future.

Bradwell and Marks Tey need a bypass now to ensure that they do not suffer in the future and this is why we support a route that as far as possible follows the present road. In this way, these two settlements could have bypasses in the near future, rather than initial relief in 8 years time, and the relief would be permanent.

The claim that the farmland destroyed by the proposed route has low ecological value does not avoid the fact that it is high-grade farmland and should not be taken out of service. Again, the landscape may not be designated, but it is attractive Essex countryside and should not be sacrificed unnecessarily. We would also draw attention to the major flooding problems that already exist and will be exacerbated with the proposed embankments of the new A120, something avoided with the online route.

An alternative solution is to tunnel under Bradwell and MarksTey. If one enters London on the A13, there is extensive tunnelling to protect the urban environment; why cannot the same techniques be used to protect the rural environment? Indeed, the A303 near Stonehenge is going to be tunnelled to protect the landscape and setting. At over 200 million, this project has the funding to do something radical.

CPREssex question the requirement for this road, since it seems to be geared to expanding Harwich. The people of Essex should query the so-called economic benefits to the county of this expansion, which results mainly in the transport of goods across the county to other parts of the country. Surely it would be better to ship the goods closer to their final destination; the Midlands is much closer to Bristol and South Wales, besides being connected with motorways. We keep being told that the North of England needs regenerating; Liverpool would better serve that area. Alternatively, the North East has plenty of motorways to the industrial areas. If we are doing so much better, is it because we do not have motorways? In which case, we should stay deprived of these land-eating transport links and enjoy the better quality of life with our rural countryside.

Successive Governments tell us that we cannot build our way out of congestion, but still keep building roads to prove the point! All the Multi-Modal Studies concluded that, even with the enormous land take measures proposed, congestion would return to the present situation in twenty years time, unless we changed our way of life to live near to work and services. The present approach of concreting over our landscape every time our roads block up is unsustainable, due to climate change, and unattractive for future quality of life.

CPREssex urge the HA to reconsider this road scheme with a view to minimising land take and providing permanent relief to Bradwell and Marks Tey. If they insist on taking the present route, then exceptional mitigation measures must be taken to maintain as far as possible the special landscape areas. The road must have a low profile and tunnelling under the Blackwater SLA to the A12 should be considered as a serious option. This will also prevent the inevitable light and noise pollution from the road in this critical area.