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A646 corridor improvement programme will increase traffic and carbon emissions

From Anthony Rae

Thursday, 28 July 2022

For years Calderdale Friends of the Earth has campaigned against the A646 'corridor improvement programme' (CIP) being developed by Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), on the grounds that it could increase the quantity of road traffic on the road (the technical term is 'induced') and consequently carbon emissions as well. The council refused to disclose the data on possible traffic increases until eventually I was able to require this to happen, which then did reveal that e.g traffic through the Hebden Bridge area would indeed increase as a result of the scheme.

Now following further campaigning by Friends of the Earth, West Yorkshire Combined Authority has just published a technical report by consultants Mott MacDonald and Ricardo which shows that the A646 'corridor improvement programme' will also increase carbon emissions. The reason? 'This scheme is shown to increase carbon emissions due to the modelled impact of induced demand' says the report. So it seems Friends of the Earth were right on both counts.

And yet these 'corridor improvement programmes' are embedded into the draft Calderdale Local Plan, now reaching its final stages before approval. The A629 'corridor improvement programme', now on site and constructing flyovers around the Salter Hebble junction, will result in the largest traffic increase of all. The technical report shows that this scheme too will increase carbon emissions. When FOE warned councillors some years ago that this would happen, they claimed not to believe it.

On Monday 11th July the council's Cabinet agreed to a consultation on the last stage of its local plan proposals, to be held in August and September. The report boasted that the local plan meant that people would be able to 'move around the district .. sustainably .. and that the environment is protected and enhanced for future generations'. But days beforehand Calderdale Friends of the Earth had told the Plan's inspector that we were withdrawing from her examination process after our decade-long attempt to get the council to map what would be the Calderdale-wide impact of the Local Plan proposals on road traffic finally failed. The council had refused to provide the information requested. The carbon impact of the local plan has also not been modelled on the grounds that this is technically not required. Friends of the Earth now regard the local plan process to be tainted by these and many other modelling failures.

Back to the A646 'corridor improvement programme', which I think is gearing up to start implementation. If it's admitted that this will increase the volume of road traffic and carbon emissions, shouldn't political leaders be accepting that the scheme can't continue in its existing form? And how will it help us be able to plan for a genuinely sustainable future, with urgent reductions to carbon emissions, if councillors and officers refuse to disclose what actually happens to road traffic and carbon as a result of their plans? And then act on it.