Nidd Gorge Viaduct
Nidd Gorge Viaduct

Fact check: A relief road would destroy the Nidd Gorge

in Harrogate/News
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A consultation is currently underway, looking to gain the views of the public on congestion in the area and views on possible solutions.

One of the proposed solutions would include a relief road that would run from the southern bypass to , passing near to .

A statement made by the opposition group, HALT, includes a claims around the proposal.

Claim: A relief road would destroy the Nidd Gorge

David Bowe, Corporate Director for Business and Environmental Services, said:

There is no detailed alignment for a relief road. However, the corridor that has been shown to be the most beneficial and deliverable is an inner southern relief road without a link to Bilton.

If the option of a relief road were to be pursued, the proposed road would lie somewhere in the Bilton Fields area and not close to Nidd Gorge itself.

Any relief road would be a single carriageway road with a speed limit of 60mph, like the existing southern bypass, with off-road facilities for cycling and walking. Its prime purpose would be to reduce traffic on existing local roads.

A relief road in isolation is unlikely to address all the congestion issues, so if this option were to be taken forward it would be as part of a package including other sustainable measures, including walking, cycling and passenger transport initiatives.




Harrogate Relief Road
Harrogate Relief Road Inner (southern) is the route being considered as part of the review.

A spokesperson for the HALT campaign said:

No we have never thought the road would go through the actual river Gorge itself, that would be impossible, the Gorge and the surrounding area is known as Nidd Gorge conservation area, (essentially the green area on the map below, the red line is just my rough scribble of a possible route from a couple of months ago, but it isn’t too far off) this includes Bilton Fields.

The West Field will indeed be destroyed, as will the adjacent Nidd Gorge area, the river Gorge itself will not suffer from any direct damage from building work but the water, air and sound pollution from a road passing within 200m of it will cause significant damage to the delicate ecosystem. There are many species which live in or alongside the river (brown trout are one example, but there are many more) which are very sensitive to pollution and will definitely be affected.

The other effect will be that the Nidd will be cut off from Bilton by the relief road and the killinghall bypass, and will only be accessible by crossing the roads. This means that the whole area, (Bilton Fields, Nidd Gorge itself and the Greenway (which is crossed by the roads in 2 places) will no longer be the safe recreational space it is now, where dogs and children can run free without risk of being run over, as well as its clean air being a thing of the past.

On the whole this means that the whole area will have been so completely changed and damaged, that it will be unrecognisable as the tranquil, beautiful biodiverse area that is used by thousands of people for their physical and mental wellbeing that we are lucky enough to have today.

Although the detailed route of a relief road would pass near, but not through the Nidd Gorge. There is a difference in published literature by HALT with a flyer that went to many households saying  “Destruction of Nidd Gorge”. This differs from the more more recent quote from the group, shown above. It is important to note that although an approximate corridor has been identified for the route, but an approximate corridor that doesn’t pass through the gorge.

A relief road would have a similar volume of traffic to the southern bypass, with around 1,800 cars per hour predicted for both routes by 2035. The southern relief road should be used as an indicator on the impact of the proposed new route.

Conclusion: No, a relief road would not destroy the Nidd Gorge

To take part in the congestion review see  https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/harrogate-congestion-engagement



Chris Kitson from HALT said:

I think it’s safe to say that both Bilton Fields (east & west) will be destroyed with this chosen corridor. I would like to add that Don M is on record as saying that he believes ‘there is plenty of room for the gorge, greenway and road to co-exist’. Whilst that may be physically correct the environmental price paid by the gorge and greenway is totally unacceptable and it is scandalous that the proposal has been allowed to get this far. In the past when a western road threatened the environmental beauty of Crimple Valley it was dropped for being too environmentally damaging. The continued pursuance of this route by NYCC shows utter contempt for the 40 years of dedicated conservation work carried out by Bilton Conservation Group and for the community of Bilton. A road would absolutely ruin the experience in the western side of Nidd Gorge for it’s thousands of visitors, and indeed would spoil the experience along its full length due to increased noise pollution. It is an absolute destruction of what we have now. We stand by every word.


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11 Comments

  1. Dear Tim,

    As the road will pass over the Gorge and run across the adjacent fields you’re article is ridiculous, you have based your silly opinion on what, a council worker said so, you and your so called media are an embarrassment to the people of Harrogate.

  2. Tim, to say I am disappointed with this ‘article’ and your unexplained conclusion is a real understatement. Rachel’s informal email to you was not intended to be published verbatim. I sent you a statement that was more suitable to be published but you chose not to include it. Please correct this error by inserting my original statement to you, below, into your piece:

    “I think it’s safe to say that both Bilton Fields (east & west) will be destroyed with this chosen corridor. I would agree with everything said and would like to add that Don M is on record as saying that he believes ‘there is plenty of room for the gorge, greenway and road to co-exist’. Whilst that may be physically correct (i.e. you could squeeze a road through what Andrew Bainbridge called the ‘development gap’ of Bilton Fields) the environmental price paid by the gorge and greenway is totally unacceptable and it is scandalous that the proposal has been allowed to get this far. In the past when a western road threatened the environmental beauty of Crimple Valley it was dropped for being too environmentally damaging. The continued pursuance of this route by NYCC shows utter contempt for the 40 years of dedicated conservation work carried out by Bilton Conservation Group and for the community of Bilton. A road would absolutely ruin the experience in the western side of Nidd Gorge for it’s thousands of visitors, and indeed would spoil the experience along its full length due to increased noise pollution. It is an absolute destruction of what we have now. We stand by every word.”

    Thanks

    Chris

    • Your article is as biased as NYCC s campaign. Of course the road would damage Nidd Gorge. New roads do not alleviate traffic they bring more traffic. Obviously the environment is of no importance to you or NYCC. This at a time when we know the environment is being destroyed.

  3. I can’t believe the Harrogate informer is defending the relief road, which will destroy the countryside directly adjacent to the Nidd gorge .An area massively used by the local community. It’s not just a blank bit of farmers land .I’m appalled I would like to know who is paying everybody off in this town to get this road through. No alternative measures have even been tried yet but we can spend millions destroying our natural environment to possibly reduce traffic by a small amount ,most of the traffic is actually people driving within Harrogate! So disappointed in the informer who I would have thought would have supported the Bilton community.

  4. It’s great that you have published a response from the HALT campaign, even if it wasn’t the official response they sent. However your ‘fact check’ conclusion ignores the actual content and fails to show any understanding of the explanation of how ecosystems, such as the Nidd Gorge, work. You cannot cut off wildlife or surround it with pollution and expect it to survive.

  5. What a load of old twaddle. By the time it’s built electric vehicles will be the norm – no pollution, no noise. Road verges are sanctuaries for wildlife with no footpaths and no dogs. Unlike Nidd Gorge where dogs are allowed to run free.
    Please can we just get on with it?

  6. Well done to the Harrogate Informer for some more balanced reporting on this subject. So we hear that the children of Bilton Grange, Richard Taylor and Woodfield schools have spontaneously decided to erect posters complaining about a possble relief road and increased polution. Leaving aside the fact that by the time any relief road is built there will be no poluting cars on the road, is it therefore ok for the children of Willow Tree, Grove Road, New Park (and oddly Bilton Grange too) Schools to be subjected to the heavy volumes of traffic, much of which is HGVs, that persists on the Wetherby/Skipton Road and will definately get worse with all the planned new housing?

    It’s time this local version of “Project Fear” was put to bed for the sake of the future prosperity of Harrogate and the wellbeing of all its citizens.

  7. Apart from the Killinghall bypass there were 4 routes that were put forward as bypasses, however only 2 of the routes were bypasses, which by definition means to go around.
    The Western route was a non starter as at one time being the chosen route, was later dropped after a successful appeal and legal challenge by concerned residents. Circa 2000.
    The Northern route, (yellow) then became the preferred option and remained so until it was officially dropped in July 2018, following a challenge by a developer.
    This left 2 routes, technically neither of which is a bypass as both go through the narrow gap between Harrogate and Knaresborough. Coincidentally opening up large tracts of prime development land.
    Nobody should be fooled by the current proposed road, it will do nothing to reduce traffic volumes around Harrogate and nothing for the people in the district.

  8. FFS I,am sick of reading about this give it a bloody well rest we all no if the by pass was not stopped in Knaresborough and carry on round up too Killinghall this conversation would not be taking place do you all agree on that point yes or no now too the real reason this road should be put in is that the fact of it is HARROGATE council is building and building new homes in and around Harrogate they have got a quoted they have too build at least 600 new homes per year for the next 25 years so to those who is not listening this road and the rest of the new roads hospitals schools etc etc is not for this generation but for the next get this in to your skull it’s not for now but for the future and if those who don’t like the idea we’ll move out of one HARROGATE post code to another post code where there is not much traffic too deal with thank you for your time now get on with what ever you was doing before you started too read this

  9. ALL its citizens,Mr Trantor?
    I think you may find many of the people in and around Bilton who will actually be affected by the construction of a so called”relief road”may beg to differ!
    Apart from the obvious environmental damage which will be caused,the loss of traffic free recreational space in an already overbuilt area would be a tragedy both for the mental and physical health of many.
    I am assuming you don’t live anywhere near the intended project.At a guess safely on the other side of town where green space appears to be sacrosant(e.g Pannal/Crimple Valley).

  10. It’s good to see a balanced view that’s not based on conjecture. The road would not go over the Nidd Gorge, but would run close to it. It’s as simple as that.

    We have to discuss as a community whether we see it to be beneficial or not. Skipton Road is currently choked, and, like it or not, east-west connectivity is a good thing from a trade and business point of view.

    If the route is connected to the major roads (A61, A59, A661) without in-between connections, then there is no need to open up the area to housing. There isn’t any housebuilding on the Southern Bypass, and this needs to be enforced on this route.

    Having said the above, a Western Bypass would be a better option than all of this. Western parts of the town are now seeing a huge rise in housebuilding, and Burn Bridge and Pannal are now rat-runs. If east-west connectivity is one of the requirements, then a Western Bypass connecting to the Southern Bypass would perform the function of the relief road, without the need of going anywhere near the Nidd Gorge, whilst alleviating the problems that are going to be caused by current housebuilding to the west.

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