10 November 2009
The bookcover of The White Horse wins the day.
The successful two-year campaign by the White Horse Alliance to defeat the Westbury eastern bypass has now been chronicled in a glossy full colour paperback, ‘The White Horse wins the day’.
The book traces the origins of the campaign back to 1998 when protesters stood outside the planning conference in Westbury with a dinosaur model bearing the words ‘Prehistoric transport policy’. The story ends with the decision by the government in July this year to reject the planning application for the road.
The book gives key extracts from the report of the planning inspector who ran the public inquiry from June to October 2008 and from the decision letter in which the government accepted his advice that the inadequate benefits of the road would be outweighed by the harm it would do to the landscape and tranquility of the Wellhead Valley.
'We felt it was essential to spell out why this road was thrown out by the Inspector and Secretary of State,’ said Jenny Raggett, the book’s designer and joint editor. 'The big mistake made by the local authority was to push a road scheme forward against substantial public opinion. The book shows the consequences of this error by charting the history of the scheme. ‘We also wanted to record and celebrate the extraordinary determination and resourcefulness of hundreds of local people who opposed the bypass and raised most of the money and the moral force needed to defeat it.
‘The Inspector's report was very clear and dismissed a number of claimed benefits of the road, while making it clear that the environmental impact of building it was very great indeed. Part of the motivation for producing the book was to show future decision makers why an eastern Westbury bypass - or a variant of the scheme - cannot be revived in any form. We believe that no future government would be likely to fund this road in the 21st century.’
The Alliance hopes that its book will be an inspiration to other campaigners fighting the last of the ‘dinosaur roads’ - and a cautionary tale for any local authorities who may be tempted to ignore the spirit of the times and bid for just one more road before the climate and energy crises force all parties to embrace the green agenda.
The 26-page paperback (approx. A4 format) is no longer sold as the first edition has sold out.