Breath-taking example of disjointed Government
Aug 1, 2020 —
Describing the structure as “an iconic element of the region’s landscape”, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps recently announced his hope that Queensbury Tunnel could be “reborn as part of a green transport route…helping to improve connectivity in an environmentally friendly way while being a source of pleasure for generations of cyclists and walkers to come.”
The Department for Transport has now committed funding for a technical study into options for reopening the tunnel which will feed into the development of a business case for a greenway linking the major population centres of Bradford and Halifax. Unfortunately, responsibility for producing the tunnel report has been given to Highways England which, given its desire to abandon the tunnel, is a cause of understandable concern to us.
However it’s clearly very good news that the DfT is now engaging with the positive opportunities presented by Queensbury Tunnel in the context of active travel, health and environmental benefits, and ‘levelling up’ the northern economies.
So you can imagine our dismay when we learned that Highways England has just instructed its contractor, AMCO-Giffen, to infill a section of the tunnel below a ventilation shaft at a cost exceeding half-a-million pounds. This particular shaft is in the best condition of the seven sunk during the tunnel’s construction and is showing no meaningful signs of distress. We therefore regard this work as unwarranted and another attempt to scupper the positive outcome hoped for by everyone…except Highways England and a few civil servants.
The construction of this shaft plug is identified as a requirement of HE’s planning application for the tunnel’s abandonment - which hasn't yet been determined - and could therefore violate planning control regulations.
More than 6,800 people have already submitted objections to plans for the tunnel’s destruction. But it’s never been more important to ensure that the application is rejected, preventing any further damaging interventions by Highways England. So we urge anyone who hasn’t yet objected to do so soon; Bradford Council’s planning committee is due consider the application later this month, although the timing remains uncertain.
Objecting takes two minutes and can be done online without registering. Here’s the link to the Council’s planning portal…
Please remember to record your ‘Stance’ as OBJECT and share the link with your family, friends and colleagues.
We’d like to thank you for once again for your support.
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