FEARS that Westbury could be subject to extra heavy traffic have receded after an appeal against a weight restriction in Bath – which could have resulted in the diversion of vehicles through Westbury – has been upheld.
In upholding the appeal, the Department of Transport said that lorry drivers would be seriously inconvenienced by the restriction, with diversions along less suitable local roads, or face lengthy diversions.
It means that Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) are not able to introduce an 18 tonne environmental HGV weight restriction on the A36 in Bath.
If vehicles had been unable to continue their journey out of Bath along the A36, there were fears that the restriction would cause heavy traffic to take a route out of Bath via Yarnbrook and Westbury.
BANES announced the proposal last year, and subsequently Wiltshire Council, Somerset County Council, and the Highways Agency lodged an appeal against the weight limit with the Secretary of State. Local MP Andrew Murrison and Westbury Town Council also voiced their objections. Last week, it was announced that the appeal had been upheld.
Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire, welcomed the Department for Transport’s decision. He said, “The attempt by BANES to shunt its heavy traffic up the A350 through Westbury, Yarnbrook and West Ashton was outrageous, rightly and successfully challenged by our council.
“I say a big well done as many of my constituents will now be relieved of the fear of more heavy traffic rumbling past their door.”
Westbury mayor Sue Ezra said that the decision was a piece of good news for the town. She said, “The proposed closure of Cleveland Bridge in Bath, which would have diverted all the heavy traffic via the A350, will now not occur.
“The appeal was upheld so that means that BANES will now have to go back to the drawing board to come up with another way of solving their traffic problems. I feel that we must keep an eye on this matter in the future because I fear that BANES will not let this drop.”
Congestion and air quality problems
Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways, Dick Tonge said, “We are pleased that the Department for Transport has upheld our appeal against the proposals to divert lorries on the Cleveland Bridge in Bath. Along with Somerset County Council and the Highways Agency we consistently opposed this experimental order by Bath Council as we believe the banned HGVs would then start using Wiltshire’s roads causing congestion and air quality problems. We understand Bath’s problems and will work with them to try to find a solution that does not impact on Wiltshire.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said, “We have worked closely and listened carefully to all councils and those affected by the proposed restriction.
“However the suggested turning ban would turn Bath into a surprise dead-end for hundreds of lorries. Unless the proposals include proper through-routes for all types of traffic, they will have serious costs for local businesses and surrounding communities. Therefore I ask Bath & North East Somerset council to work with its neighbours to find a better alternative.”