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energy and resources
Lyndhurst By-Pass: A Dilemma?
by Don Stewart, Chairman, Transport Campaign Group
The opening of the New Forest National Park (NFNP) was welcomed by most residents living in the South, none more so, than the residents of Lyndhurst who live at the heart of the Forest within the boundary. They have a somewhat different agenda to the Verderers and Commoners in that they have legitimate needs and concerns regarding the nuisance throughout the year of standing traffic congestion, poor air quality and economic stagnation.
The responsibility for the management and protection of the Forest falls on the New Forest National Park Authority. CPRE New Forest District Group membership is drawn from the county boarders of Dorset and Wiltshire to Netley on the eastern bank of Southampton Water. This is a very much larger area than the NFNP and embraces waterside and coastal fringe.
The recent HCC Transport Seminar held at Beaulieu (19th January 2007) successfully addressed many issues including rail, bus and tourist services, but at the back of everyone's mind was renewed interest stemming from a case presented in 2005 by Lyndhurst residents for a by-pass. The history for proposals to reroute the A337 around Lyndhurst started in the 1980's and culminated when some 18 acres of forest were identified as exchange land by HCC in the successful Bill in the House of Lords in 1987. Nothing became of this because of local objection and lack of funding. The new case calls for a fresh approach for a major improvement to previous plans, for a single unlit carriageway east of the village including 400 metre 'cut-and cover' tunnel which would allow access to livestock.
"…the local residents are concerned about air quality, standing traffic congestion and tranquillity: the Verderers Court and Conservationists generally are singularly interested in opposing the environmental impact of such incursion into the Forest"
Thereby is the dilemma that unfolds for HCC, the NFNP Authority and the New Forest Association in the face of through traffic loading (80%) and the unrelenting increase of visitors annually to the forest to sustain economic growth through tourism.
It does not end there. CPRE will need at some time to decide either to support their membership resident in the Lymington district in pressing for the by-pass to be built, or perhaps alternatively, side with environmental lobby and oppose the project. The latter decision would have to be made with the knowledge that traffic loading outside the National Park would create an equally damaging threat to the ecology of waterside (A326) and coastal fringe.
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