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Submitting 'pet' A303 solutions is not helpful
11:02am Thursday 3rd April 2014 in Salisbury Letters
IT is almost inevitable that the A303 feasibility study will encourage lots of folks with “pet” solutions to the problem to put them forward here in the Journal, and elsewhere.
It’s only human nature to do so, but it may not be particularly productive.
Focusing on perceived solutions, rather than the problems that we are seeking to address, will waste more time, effort and money and is unlikely to produce a successful outcome.
That approach has failed every time it has been adopted over the last 50 years.
In his letter to the Journal last week, Stephen Bush took issue with John Glen MP’s earlier article, focusing on Mr Glen’s remarks about the tunnel solution.
Here again, I fear the focus on a solution is clouding the issue and missing the real point. The last inquiry was eight years ago.
Since then, a lot has changed - the economic situation of Wiltshire and the Westcountry, population increase, the transport infrastructure, traffic volumes, the impact of climate change, road-building methods, tunnelling technology, army rebasing, new industries - the list goes on.
Mr Glen alluded to this change, but that message seems to have been lost.
His more important point, and one on which most seem to agree, is that in looking for a long term solution, we should not “start out arguing for a tame compromise”.
To do this, we need some hard facts and figures to show what those changes mean to the economic case for solving the A303 conundrum and that is what the feasibility study seeks to do.
So, what is it we are really hoping to achieve? I would suggest the following compromisefree objectives: Provide a high speed, east-west route across south Wiltshire, avoiding and minimising the impact on local communities, the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (not just Stonehenge – it is the entire contextual setting of the WHS that is really at issue) and nature reserves and SSSIs.
The solution must be one which is affordable economically and socially, archaeologically viable, and beneficial in regional, national and international terms. Solutions that that can meet those objectives, and that would be “affordable” should have a higher priority for consideration than others that compromise those objectives.
In the case of the A303, the shortest route from A to B (the Hampshire border to Wylye) may neither be the most desirable, nor the most affordable.
Cllr Andrew Shuttleworth, Winterbourne Stoke
I REFER to recent letters regarding the A303 and understand that everyone will have their own opinion as to what may be right for the future of the A303 and what might be wrong.
Stonehenge Traffic Action Group (STAG), for now, will remain neutral but open minded over possible solutions until the publication of the imminent feasibility study.
I understand that previous studies will be taken into account along with knowledge accrued with regard to archaeology, geology, water table and construction safety, which arguably should keep costs down.
The Government has acknowledged that the A303 is one of only two national routes to the West Country and presently is not fit for purpose.
In the light of recent rail closures due to flooding, it is entirely clear that upgrading is no longer up for discussion and that something needs to be done sooner rather than later, and has to be affordable, socially acceptable and deliverable.
Whatever your politics it has to be said John Glen MP has been most active in recent months, not least in securing the 90-minute debate in Westminster on March 4 pushing to secure a better future for all of us.
Robert Goodwill, Under Secretary of State for Transport, in his summing up at that debate, commented that he is both aware of the problems around Stonehenge and recognises the efforts made by local lobby groups such as STAG.
Whether it be a tunnel or dual carriageway, we must all pull together while deliberations take place and an acceptable, affordable solution is found.
Janice Hassett, STAG
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