Government rejects Westbury bypass plan

2 July 2009

‘Westbury White Horse Kicking’. Animation by Alexander Tobias. Funded by Artists Project Earth.

The White Horse Alliance welcomed the Government decision to reject the proposed Westbury bypass plan as a victory for common sense and the determination of local people to defend one of the great landscapes of England.

The Secretary of the White Horse Alliance, Pat Kinnersly said:

The inspectors agreed with our expert witnesses that this was a dud transport scheme on a route of no regional significance that should not be turned into a strategic highway from the M4 to the South coast ports.

They agreed with the hundreds of local people who have consistently opposed the council's plans for building a road through the magnificent landscape below the historic white horse hill figure on the western scarp of Salisbury Plain. They thought a road here would wreck the tranquillity of the Wellhead Valley and the damage would not be justified by the small gains for the town centre. They criticised the lack of transport integration.

We hope Wiltshire Council will now abandon its grandiose plans for a massive new road through West Wiltshire and the string of schemes that would have followed if they had got permission to build the Westbury bypass.

This means too that West Wiltshire will not have to accommodate all the extra trucks that would have been diverted down the A350 as an outer bypass for Bath. That deal with Bath And North East Somerset Council died today.

Wiltshire Council has spent £4m on the Westbury scheme so far but the government has just saved council taxpayers a further £4m that the council would have spent on completing the project.

It is time Wiltshire County Council moved into the 21st century and started to invest in the kind of transport we will need if we are to cope with fuel scarcity and prevent a climate crisis. We need to reduce traffic everywhere - including Westbury and the villages where this plan would have made it worse - not encourage it to grow.

Read the planning inspectors' report (PDF, 295 pages), following the public inquiry in 2008.

Read the letter by the Secretary of State for Communites (PDF, 10 pages) accepting the inspectors' recommendation to reject the proposed road.