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Sefton’s response to Peel Ports – 10/09/2021

Sefton Council has reaffirmed its unwavering support for the Friends of Rimrose Valley group and the wider community after campaigners were sent a misleading letter from the Peel Ports Group.

Cllr John Fairclough, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Locality Services, says the open letter fails to understand or appreciate the experiences and concerns of the local community, who will be detrimentally affected by a planned dual carriageway cutting through Rimrose Valley Park.

The letter also cites out of date statistics and data which is no longer relevant to the issues that would arise as a result of the road’s creation.

While there is some common ground to be found within the letter, issued by Peel Ports’ Chief Executive, Cllr Fairclough lamented what he describes as a lack of sympathy to the community.

Cllr Fairclough said: “For years we have repeatedly said we want to work with all parties, from our communities to our businesses, to find a workable, safe and environmentally sound solution to an increased demand on the port.

“Not only will National Highway’s plans deprive us of a much loved urban green space, it will also, by their own admission, have a negative impact on significant HGV vehicle pollution which goes against the Government’s own agenda to improve air quality.

“The letter I have read today from Peel’s Chief Executive is equally misleading and misguided and I would like to set the record straight on a number of points.

“While we wholeheartedly agree that ‘getting freight off road’ should be a key strategic aim for Peel’s business, it should not be remedied by building a new road that moves this issue from one area to another.

“Getting freight ‘off road’ is vital for communities who have long been affected by the operations associated with the port. The long standing real world lived experiences of local residents, of which some of our elected members are, does not align with the ‘benefits’ laid out in this letter.

“Social and environmental issues continue for our communities, not just from port-related traffic but from the underlying operations of the port itself, and economic benefits have been limited in terms of the quality and quantity of employment opportunity generated for local people by the port. And also we have the potential designation of Freeport status, the implications of which are unspecified at present, but will need to be taken into account too.

“This should not be a trade-off of one versus another – solutions are required that deliver positive economic, social and environmental outcomes.

“I note that in his letter, Chief Executive Mark Whitworth refers to detailed studies suggesting that only 10-15% of the traffic assessed is connected with port operations.

“While we have always challenged this historic statistic, which was taken from several years prior, it is particularly important that we take a fresh look at new and up to-date data.

“The world of work has changed significantly since then, not least in the context of the pandemic. These changes, as well as increased growth in the port’s traffic volume, have greatly affected traffic flows in the area and a fresh study is needed.

“It is also important to understand the greater impact of HGVs, compared to other vehicles, on local air quality.

“We have always shared the belief of our communities that National Highways should explore and identify alternative technologies and solutions that would be far less detrimental to the health and wellbeing of our residents.

“This letter does nothing to change our minds.”