Baroness Vere has agreed to examine a report produced last year by consultancy Arup on behalf of Sefton Council, which sets out alternatives to building a controversial link road between Switch Island and Princess Way.
The roads minister’s decision follows fierce lobbying by environmental campaign groups including Save Rimrose Valley, which argue that the proposed scheme being led by Highways England would have a devastating impact on biodiversity in the Rimrose Valley Country Park, which the road would cut through.
The project aims to ease traffic on the A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road outside Liverpool by building a dual carriageway through the park and improving freight and other access to the Port of Liverpool by bypassing the existing, heavily congested A5036.
The scheme has already suffered setbacks due to ongoing ground investigations and the impact of Covid-19, Highways England said in a statement last month.
Following Highways England’s announcement of delays, a meeting took place on 10 March between Baroness Vere, Bootle MP Peter Dowd and Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson, and was also attended by representatives of Sefton Council, Highways England and Save Rimrose Valley.
Baroness Vere initially said she believed the opportunity to consider alternative options to the link road had passed and that the scheme’s opponents should seek to exercise their views in the next round of consultation on the project, according to Save Rimrose Valley.
However, she later agreed to review the Arup report that highlights alternative solutions to getting containers out of the port, such as overhead container transfer and automated vehicles, following comments from Sefton MP Esterson, and to report back on her findings.
Stuart Bennett, spokesperson for Save Rimrose Valley, said: “It was great to see both MPs highlighting the issues around this destructive road proposal, explaining that people are suffering right now in their constituencies as a direct result of another of Highways England’s roads.
“The focus of this meeting was on protecting the health, wellbeing and environment of everyone in our borough. It was about the urgent need to explore more imaginative ways of tackling the problems caused by the Port of Liverpool’s operations – not only about what happens in Rimrose Valley.
He added: “We welcome the minister’s commitment to review Sefton Council’s initial report. We hope it gives her food for thought and allows the Government to step back from sanctioning the destruction of a valuable green space.”
Sefton Council and Highways England have been contacted for comment.