Wiltshire Publications

Councils continue to fight possibility of extra heavy traffic

AN APPEAL has been made to the Secretary of State for transport to challenge plans for a new weight limit along the A36 in Bath – with one of the concerns being that it could direct extra heavy traffic through Westbury.

An 18-tonne environmental weight restriction along the A36 in Bath would mean that heavy goods vehicles travelling along the current route from the north of Bath and the M4 would be unable to continue their journey south out of Bath along the A36. There are fears that such a restriction will cause heavy goods vehicles to take a route out of Bath through Staverton, Trowbridge, Yarnbrook, and Westbury, before rejoining the A36 outside of Warminster.

Wiltshire Council, Somerset County Council, and the Highways Agency have written to the Secretary of State for transport, objecting to Bath and North East Somerset Council’s (BANES) planned weight limit. They say their “opposition is based on the certainty” that diverted HGVs would be transferred onto less suitable routes with “inevitable adverse environmental and amenity results”.

They add that the function of the primary route network (PRN), which designates main traffic routes, would be compromised, and that displacement of this traffic would put increased pressure on motorway junctions. They are also concerned that the freight industry will incur additional mileage costs.

The letter of appeal says, “This proposal has been emerging for several years, and has been strongly and consistently opposed by Wiltshire Council, Somerset County Council, and the Highways Agency. The proposal is also formally opposed by a number of disaffected communities, bodies representing the freight industry, and local Members of Parliament. “Dialogue between our respective authorities/agencies is now exhausted, and we have no choice but to ask the Secretary of State to intervene.

“Our request is that the Secretary of State ultimately allows the appeal, and instructs Bath and North East Somerset Council to abandon their proposal to introduce a lorry ban on the A36 Primary Route.

” BANES say that the weight limit is necessary to tackle “a serious environmental issue in the city of Bath”, and say that residents in the city are “concerned about the contribution made by HGVs to poor air quality, road safety issues and intimidation experienced by vulnerable road users within the Bath World Heritage Site.”

Last October, South West Wiltshire MP Andrew Murrison questioned the legality of BANES’ actions, saying that the A36 is a trunk road and therefore the responsibility of the Highways Agency, not BANES.

The weight limit was due to be implemented in March, but was delayed to allow a monitoring scheme to be put in place. BANES plan to introduce the limit as an experimental traffic regulation order, which they say will allow the impact of the proposed weight restriction on alternative routes to be monitored before making a permanent decision.