A planning application for the A5036 Port of Liverpool access road is likely to come forward early next year after Sefton Council decided not to appeal a High Court decision on the £335m project.
The council had launched a challenge over the road earlier this year but lost its legal fight to order Highways England to re-consult on the proposals, which are designed to ease traffic on the A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road by building a dual carriageway through Rimrose Valley country park.
The route is three miles long, and is a bypass through the Rimrose Valley area linking the Princess Way section of the A5036 to the south and Broom’s Cross Road to the north, including new junctions, bridges and footbridges.
It also includes an upgrade to dual carriageway on Broom’s Cross Road between the new bypass and the Switch Island Interchange, and de-trunking of the existing A5036 between the Switch Island Interchange and the Princess Way section of the A5036. The scheme is intended to take freight away from residential areas on the congested A5036.
Sefton had argued the issues rested in Government and Highways England failing to make adequate financial provision for the full range of options to be explored, including a tunnel. The judge agreed that the judicial review in itself was a valid challenge, but said that the budget for the scheme was a political decision, rather than a decision for the courts.
Highways England is now looking to press on with the project with a spring 2019 date set to submit a planning application after Sefton decided not to appeal the High Court decision. There will also be a public consultation next year.
Cllr Ian Maher, leader of Sefton Council, said it had been a “difficult decision” for the council not to appeal.
“We also believe Highways England should try much harder to find a better solution which would not have such a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents,” he said.
“Not only will their plans deprive us of a much loved urban green space, it will also by Highways England’s own admission have a negative impact on vehicle pollution which goes against the Government’s own agenda to improve air quality.
“One of our major considerations for not appealing was the statement in court by Highways England’s legal Counsel that we would be able to object later in the process by advocating for the tunnel as a less environmentally damaging alternative.
“So, while we will not appeal this particular judgement, we will be watching carefully the actions of Highways England throughout the statutory consultation stage to ensure that it is conducted in such a way that all affected communities can have their say on Highways England’s disastrous plan. In no way is it a closed matter and we will continue to fight for the benefit of our communities.
“If the process moves through to the Examination Phase we will be making appropriate representations on behalf of our communities regarding the significant adverse impacts the current preferred option has on everyone who lives and works in the area.
“We will continue to comply with our statutory responsibilities in this process and will always look after and advocate for the interests of our residents. However, we will not otherwise co-operate with Highways England in a scheme which, in our view, will leave all our communities much worse off.”