Letter to Highways Agency 5th April 2005

Dear Mr Shuker,

For the attention of Chris Shuker

Thank you for such a swift response to my letter yesterday. I dispute the fact that the location of the Rivenhall Waste Management Facility ‘is a major constraint on the location of’ your route. You would not open yourselves ‘to being liable for considerable sums in financial compensation for the loss of development potential’ as your proposal does not involve ‘putting a route across the site’ but approximately 250m. from the site, near Woodhouse Farm. The construction of the Proposed Southern Route would in fact be a positive asset to such a development. You state that ‘the Highways Agency would strongly resist any proposal for access to the new A120.’ This statement contradicts what numerous people have been told by H.A. staff at the exhibitions, i.e. that should a private developer have sufficient funds, they could build an access. You go on to state that ‘local access could be granted if it was shown to be for the greater public benefit.’ Whilst trunk road funds would not be used for an access, it is not conceivable that such a development would have any problem providing its own funding. I also note that Section 2 of the Southern Route which includes Rivenhall Airfield is being promoted as it would involve the re-use of a Brownfield site. Technically correct maybe, but Rivenhall Airfield is not a Brownfield site in the generally accepted sense of the word (it is a disused airfield) and the route does not affect any industrial land. Section 2 does, however, affect 17 fields of agricultural land and would involve 28 ha of land take.

My letter of the 7.3.05 that you have responded to concerned the interaction between your proposals for the A120 Braintree to Marks Tey and the Rivenhall Airfield and Stansted Airport Expansion schemes, as detailed in the Environmental Assessment Report. I also discussed the desirability of a rail link to Stansted. Please note that you were in fact sent another letter from me dated the 7.3.05. In this letter, I voiced grave concerns about the loss of high quality agricultural land. To date, I have not received a reply. Following on from your comments about compensation, I would like an explanation as to what compensation our farmers will receive following the repeal of farm loss payments on 31.10.2004. Rural livelihoods are threatened by your proposals. Of all the routes, the Proposed Southern Route involves the greatest destruction of high quality (Grade 2) agricultural land. Yet this is in serious conflict with national, regional and local planning policies. The fact that the land can be compulsorily purchased at comparatively cheap agricultural rates should not influence the choice of route as this land is a vital national resource. P.53 of your Environmental Assessment Report refers to the adverse impact of your proposals on D.E.F.R.A. policies (the Rural White Paper and England’s Rural Development Program 2000-2006) because of the significant loss of agricultural land. Yet P.113 of your Technical Appraisal Report states that the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has no objection to the proposal of any of the four proposed routes. This is incredible. Why doesn’t DEFRA have any objection? This also implies covert manoeuvrings - one would suspect at a high level. Going on to say that land take from areas of Grade 2/ Grade 3a agricultural land should be minimised where possible is clearly not addressing the reality of the impact of the proposal. Addressing the impact is precisely what DEFRA exists to do yet curiously they don’t. The Proposed Southern Route involves a land take of approximately122.4 ha, the majority of land in question being classified as the best and most versatile agricultural land, when the Design Manual For Roads And Bridges states that the loss of more than 20 hectares of Grade 2 agricultural land may be significant in the national interest. P38 of your Technical Appraisal Report states that ‘the scheme may also encourage the rural economy since accessibility is increased as a result of the improved efficiency of the network.’ In what way? With the only access by the two end junctions (for all those without the means to pay for a private access), local people will be the ones making the biggest sacrifice yet receiving the least benefit.

The feeling along the route is very much that the Highways Agency is a remote organisation and concern that the P. S. R. is a ‘done deal’ is echoed from Cressing to Kelvedon. This feeling was compounded by the fact that the beginning of the Public Consultation was followed shortly by the announcement that the A120 is now a trunk road, i.e. we’re getting the ‘Improvement’ whether we want it or not! Was this not the case, the announcement would have followed the Public Consultation, not coincided with the beginning of it in February.


2005 No. 239


The A120 Trunk Road (Stansted to Marks Tey) Order 2005

Made 7th February 2005
Coming into force 7th March 2005

I note that you will be attending the public meeting in Bradwell where support for your Proposed Southern Route is high because it will not go through the village, yet you refused to attend the public meeting in Cressing on 1.3.05, a village that will be crossed by the P.S.R. You have also failed to attend public meetings in Silver End and Coggeshall (attended by myself last night), the P.S.R. passing between these communities and passing particularly close to Silver End. This is grossly unfair and demonstrates clear bias on the part of the Highways Agency. Please register this as a formal complaint.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Lambert
Coggeshall Resident