AN ENVIRONMENTAL pressure group has listed a catalogue of objections to the major M42 upgrade scheme – and fears the loss of parts of the Meriden Gap green belt.
The £282million congestion-busting M42 junction 6 works near Birmingham Airport and the A45 are scheduled to start next year.
They include the construction of new carriageways, roundabouts and roads intended to improve traffic flow once opened in 2023.
Last week we reported concerns from residents in Bickenhill that works would damage its conservation area – containing an 11th Century church.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) is also concerned about significant harm to the greenbelt and villages in the borough.
It has warned of disruption in Hampton-in-Arden and Catherine-de-Barnes and undermining of the area’s rural character.
Jean Walters, a local planning expert with the CPRE, said: ” The proposals include a new junction half-way between Junctions 5 and 6 at Aspbury’s Copse, in Hampton-in-Arden Parish.
“This junction would be in the middle of the green belt between the villages of Hampton-in-Arden and Catherine-de-Barnes, and undermine the rural character of the area.
“It would be near the eastern boundary of the Hampton-in-Arden Conservation Area, which extends down the slope from the hill on which the village stands. This would be an impact on a heritage asset.
“Proposals would require significant new road construction in the Green Belt south of the A45, which is here of particular importance being part of the Meriden Gap.
“They include significant harm to local rights of way, in the Bickenhill and Catherine-de-Barnes area south of the A45.
“This is green belt with a high density of well-maintained and waymarked footpaths.
“The proposals would increase local use of the motorway and (it appears) add traffic to it.
“There would also be harmful environmental effects from worsening of air quality caused by high traffic volumes.”
As we reported residents in Bickenhill village are shocked and angered by the proposed works compound between the A45 and the north end of the village of Bickenhill.
Camilla Burton, who runs a guest house and livery yard from her home, told us: “This is absolutely devastating for the residents to see a beautiful ancient village being treated like this.
“The whole scheme and now the compound is going to be so damaging to my businesses and home life.
“And now I find out the compound will be going on for four years rather than two years!
“This is a huge chunk of my family life with my young children affected while we have all this upset and disruption.
“If I can’t run my businesses I won’t be able to support my three children and disabled father who all live here and rely solely on the income it generates.”
In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate, the Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council has called for mitigating measures to be introduced due to the threat to green belt and the village’s distinctive historic features.
Highways England senior project manager Jonathan Pizzey said: “The planning process is ongoing and we are continuing to work with interested parties.
“We are still in discussions with businesses, landowners and those impacted by the scheme to try to agree a solution.”
A public consultation is ongoing and a decision will be made by government ministers in the first half of next year – after recommendations from the Planning Inspectorate are published at the end of this year.