Government asked to intervene in lorry war
By Trevor Carbin
The threat of government action has given campaigners opposing Bath's plan to divert HGV traffic through Wiltshire a hope of victory.
The battle between Bath and Wiltshire over Bath council's plans to ban HGV traffic on Cleveland Bridge escalated when Wiltshire, along with Somerset and the Highways Agency, submitted an appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport. This appeal process is a relatively recent option, introduced as part of the Department for Transport's new rules relating to road classification.
We don't know how long DfT will take to decide the appeal, but there's no reason why it should take very long.
Bath intended to start the ban in June, and although there's been no formal announcement the appeal has clearly stopped this from happening.
In their submission the objectors point out that DfT's "Guidance on Road Classification and the Primary Route Network" (Jan 2012) requires that significant changes should be agreed between all of the authorities responsible for managing the primary route, to ensure consistency, and that unless the agreement of all affected authorities can be obtained, including the Highways Agency where appropriate, then changes to the primary route should not be made.
The guidance also reaffirms that under EU Directive 89/460/EC, the PRN must provide unrestricted access to 40 tonne vehicles. Bath say they've found a way round that legal requirement, but they won't tell anyone how they've done that, claiming 'legal privilege'.
The appellants conclude their letter to the DfT by saying: "DfT is formally requested to accept this appeal on behalf of the undersigned, and whilst it is fully understood that the views of both sides will need to be considered, our request is that the Secretary of State ultimately allows the appeal, and instructs Bath and North East Somerset Council to abandon their proposal to introduce a lorry ban on the A36 Primary Route."