A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Dualling

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Dualling

Received 19 October 2018
From Friends of the Earth

Representation

The technical data presented for the examination of the A303 Sparkford – Ilchester scheme treat it as a standalone project. It clearly is not. Highways England’s own justification of “why we need this scheme” starts by stating:
“The A303/A358 corridor is a vital connection between the south west, London and the south east. While much of the route is a dual carriageway, there are still over 35 miles of single carriageway” – and it is clear from much of their promotional material, and Ministerial statements, that the scheme is to be viewed as part of a wider strategy to create an A303 “expressway” of continuous dual carriageway standard between the south east and the south west.
The scheme appraisal looks very much as though it discounts the cumulative effects of this strategy. Two other schemes in the same corridor, A303 Stonehenge and A358 Taunton to Southfields, are explicitly scoped out as having “no cumulative effects” (ref APP-051).
The transport report (ref APP-150) predicts traffic increases of 15-20% over “do minimum” by 2038 – a maximum daily flow on A303 of 43600 with dualling as against 36300 in the “do minimum” case (and 23400 present day). This includes some local re-assignment away from other roads in the area.
We request that the examining body seeks confirmation of this, but it looks very much as though these forecasts are based on dualling only the Sparkford – Ilchester section of A303, not the corridor as a whole. In other words, what is being appraised is not what is actually proposed.
A Freedom of Information request to Highways England has so far failed to elicit forecasts for the traffic increases resulting from dualling of the A303/A358 corridor as a whole. It should be noted however that the 2002 SWARMMS study predicted daily flows of 55000 vehicles on this section of A303 if the corridor as a whole were dualled. This is 12% more than the flow that is used as the basis for modelling in the Environmental Statement, 50% more than “do minimum”, and 135% more than the present day. Many adverse impacts will be correspondingly greater.
We appreciate that the examining body has to consider the scheme it is presented with, and cannot recommend on the project to dual the A303 as a whole. Nevertheless since that is the context within which the A303 Sparkford – Ilchester scheme so clearly sits, we believe that it is misleading to put it through examination as though the other elements of the overall strategy did not exist.