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Press Release - for immediate release - 9 January 2005

Newbury Bypass ten years on - huge traffic growth revealed

On the tenth anniversary since worked started to build the bitterly contested A34 Newbury Bypass [1], research shows that the additional road capacity has fuelled traffic growth of just under 50% [2]. Figures also show that congestion is as bad at rush hour as it was prior to the bypass opening, and that the new road has encouraged more traffic. In 2003, five years after its opening, traffic levels had already massively exceeded the Government predictions for traffic levels at 2010.

Rebecca Lush from Road Block said:

 "In 1995 we predicted the road would bring only short term relief, but even we did not anticipate that the traffic would rise again so quickly. Ten years on we are sad to see that Newbury is still grid locked at rush hour, but has sacrificed its beautiful pristine countryside forever.  The lessons must be learned, that building more roads generates more traffic.  However the government is still building roads and encouraging traffic growth.  More roads mean more traffic, which means more climate change.  We must change direction, and Newbury is an example of a failed twentieth century transport policy that must never be repeated".

Speaking on the Today programme, Newbury business man and Friends of the Earth member, Adrian Foster Fletcher said:

"Anyone who lives in Newbury knows how the town is still grid locked at rush hour, and this report shows the extraordinary traffic growth the bypass has prompted, just as we predicted ten years ago.  Whilst nationally traffic growth has risen by about 5%, in the same period since the bypass opened, Newbury has experienced 50% traffic growth.  This road was never built to solve Newbury's traffic problems, and this report shows how the bypass has failed Newbury, and encouraged more traffic and pollution.  Ten years on we hope that the lessons of Newbury will be learned."

Editors Notes

  1. Construction work on the A34 Newbury bypass started on 9 January 1996, resulting in a sustained direct action campaign with over 30 protest camps and 1000 arrests.  The 13.5 km (10 mile) dual carriageway to the west of the town was opened in November 1998. The road destroyed four Sites of Special Scientific Interest, two Scheduled Ancient Monuments, and numerous wildlife habitats and ancient woodlands.  
  2. The Atkins Newbury Movement Study, commissioned by West Berkshire Council, was published in 2005, comprising three parts including the Baseline Review of Transport Conditions (246 pages).   The Study is available to download at webpage:
  3. Highways Agency report recommended the Newbury Bypass be built, after terminating six months ahead of schedule.  Its remit was "to look again at the published route and any other practical alternative options for reducing congestion at Newbury".  A critique can be read at:
  4. Full text of section 3.27.1 is ' Following the 1988 inquiry new National Road Traffic Forecasts (NRTF 89) were release. These were based on the revised economic and planning data projections. New estimates of the forecast traffic flow are some 50 to 60% higher than those given at the Inquiry. Revised low growth forecasts for the Western Bypass range from 22,000 to 30,000 vpd (depending upon location) and high growth from 27,000 to 36,000 vpd (all traffic flows are given in 24 hour AADT).'

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