Comment by Tom Foster, Braintree District Council Member

The Highways Agency proposes to build the new A120 along the southern route because of all the various options it predicts that this will produce maximum cost benefit as a result of reduced journey times. Like weather forecasting this prediction comes from a computer model. One trusts that the Highways Agency’s prediction is more reliable than poor Michael Fish’s forecast of a moderate wind before the 1987 hurricane!

Despite its cost benefit prediction the Highways Agency’s proposal should be rejected for the following reasons:-

1) The route would cut across unspoilt countryside plundering the beautiful Blackwater valley. Much Essex countryside has been taken and not much remains. If the Highways Agency’s proposal comes to fruition there would be terrible and unnecessary loss of natural habitat and tranquillity.

2) There would be an intolerable impact on a number of villages such as Tye Green, Cressing, Silver End, Coggeshall and Feering.

3) There would be a loss of 85 hectares of agricultural land, the size of a small farm. In this time of plenty, when many acres are set aside, this might not seem serious but emergencies will arise when we will need our acres. We are, indeed, now facing a world emergency in the form of climate change, of which road transport is a major contributor. We are committed to the Kyoto Protocol and rather than let our fields lie idle or, worse, build roads over them we should use them for growing energy crops.

There are similar objections to the other possible routes where the new road would cross virgin countryside so if the A120 needs improving surely the right thing to do is to upgrade the existing road. Bradwell would need to be bypassed and here serious consideration should be given to putting the road through a tunnel under the village. Hang the expense – we should no longer be profligate with the Essex countryside!

The Highways Agency says that after the current consultation the matter will be referred to a body to be set up by the deputy Prime Minister. The deputy Prime Minister is a man of little mental ability who is unfortunately allowed a wide sphere of influence. Insofar as a political principle can be ascribed to this inarticulate street fighter it can be summarised as a desire to build as much as he can wherever he can in a democratically unaccountable manner. The A120 appears to be a promising source for the deputy Prime Minister to fulfil this ideal because he will in due course be forming the adjudicating body. Talk about moving the goal posts! The Government has started this game with the posts still in Mr Prescott’s shed.