The Ipswich Northern Route – £500m to solve the wrong problem


It seems clear the  supporters of the Ipswich Northern Route fall into two separate camps.

On one hand, those who “really believe” in zero-carbon measures -“but not in my back yard “. Who feel if they mention electric cars, young families, hardpressed workers, they’re  on the side of the angels.

They quote noise, health, traffic jams but -frankly – just want to send problems somewhere else – at a cost of half a billion. In some circles this attitude’s called Greenwash.

And then the growth argument. Everyone loves growth. That nebulous, shiny entrepreneurial panacea that solves all our problems. Worship at the altar of growth and you’ll get the house you can’t afford and the job that doesn’t exist. This growth being promised us by a party who can only balance their books by removing vital  transport from bus-pass holders. To save the very same sum we’re spending on  this consultation!

So, it seems we’ve a choice. Greenwash  or Hogwash .

‘Growth’ is an excuse for the administration to fritter money they don’t have on sexy, big-boy projects. Just as they use ‘tough choices’ to justify NOT spending small sums on people who really need it. Rural buses or a consultation on a half-billion pound road?  No contest!

I sympathise with Ipswich residents for the difficulties the Orwell bridge can cause them. Just as I sympathise with Woodbridge , Martlesham, Melton residents faced daily with ever more A12 traffic  past their doors. Or our country dwellers faced with more cars, more development , zero buses.

But the Northern route won’t solve most of our transport problems: congestion in town caused by commuters, football matches, Rod Stewart, the lost Park & Ride, Suffolk Show  and all the other reasons for jams in Ipswich.

It’s a Trojan horse. Or a nice big sparkly unicorn.

Have we forgotten that the Orwell Bridge solved a problem of traffic through Ipswich? Valley Road, Chevallier Street  became really quiet after the Orwell bridge opened. But now they’re as busy as before. Induced traffic expands to fill the space provided. Why make the same mistake again?

So what is the solution? I could tell you it nicely –or I can tell you it like it is.  And I am Caroline Page.

There’s no point enabling a new route that can’t come online before 2027 when we only have till 2030 to achieve a carbon-neutral Suffolk. We have eleven years – they must be used better. When Suffolk declared a Climate Emergency, we weren’t imagining it.

All new roads invariably increase carbon – both embedded and from traffic. We need at least a 20% reduction in road mileage. Friends of the Earth are calling on a moratorium on all new roadbuilding.  On less provision, not more.

And yes, the way out IS development, but not like this.

Moving to a new environment, people change their habits.

But why is the tail wagging the dog? We need housing first, road second. Not road first and mixed messages as to where the housing might go afterwards.

New developments should be planned around transport, not new roads. Planned to focus on rail, bus, cycling and walking, with cars a secondary consideration. Not car-friendly; but people-friendly. Creating communities, not dormitories. It can work. Look at Eddington in Cambridge. Freiburg.

So –  Suffolk leaders. Let’s stop this consultation right here and now – and pour the wasted money into initiatives such as buses across rural areas while we plan for a future with us in it.

We must understand, road transport fails to deliver emission cuts. We need at least 10% modal shift to meet our carbon net-zero target. We don’t need to enable road traffic – we need our development to stop it. Get freight on rail, back on canals, even. Get people out of cars onto buses, cycles, feet.

Good news. We can do this much more cheaply than by building roads.

Let’s start now  by  giving up on this pointless and environmentally dangerous consultation and researching zero-carbon alternatives instead.

We cannot pursue growth for short-term gain. We need a world for our children and grandchildren to live in.

This is a slightly amended version of the speech I made to Suffolk County Council on 18 July, supporting a motion to abandon this consultation and put the money instead into researching zero-carbon alternatives. Unfortunately both Conservative and Labour Councillors voted against it and it was defeated 53: 12 with 2 abstentions.

The official consultation is open until September 13  at I urge everyone to fill it in.

You can join the protest at Stop Ipswich Northern Bypass



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