Junction 18a: Council votes for new M4 link at Emersons Green
ANY new junction on the M4 should be at Emersons Green, South Gloucestershire Council has agreed.
The council’s cabinet voted unanimously to press the case for the Western option for junction 18a, which would link with the ring road with the aim of reducing congestion and boosting the economy.
Members noted the strength of feeling against the Eastern options at Pucklechurch, which were put forward by consultants who carried out a £500,000 feasibility study.
The consultation on this study received large-scale engagement from the public, with more than 800 people attending roadshow exhibitions, 1275 returning online questionnaires, and over 300 residents writing letters to the council.
Responses showed that 74 per cent of people supported a new junction on the M4. Fifty one per cent of people had a preference for the Western option, 17 per cent supported the Eastern option, and 26 per cent said they did not support either option. Six per cent had no preference on a location.
A report to the cabinet showed that the costs of the two options had changed since the consultation was carried out.
Western option costs had decreased by £18m to £428m and the Eastern option costs have increased by £31m to £378m. Highways England will need to undertake further reviews of the costs.
The report also ruled out a second Eastern option, which would have run close to historic buildings in Pucklechurch, because of “ significant adverse impact on heritage and the surrounding population”.
The cabinet was told that the Western option had the potential to enable 5,700 new jobs and generate income of £449m, thus proving it had significantly higher potential for economic growth than the Eastern Option.
The report concluded that there was a strong outline business case for the junction and link road at Emersons Green.
Councillor Colin Hunt, cabinet member responsible for transport, said: “Having a new junction on the M4 is a long-standing aspiration of this council as there is a real need to ease congestion in this part of South Gloucestershire and provide better access to homes and jobs.
“The option we are recommending that Highways England now progress to the next stage of the process is the Western option. This would create a new junction to the north west of the Lyde Green housing development and would also connect the Westerleigh Road and link up with the A4174 ring road. This is the best available option and will help support future growth planned for the West of England.”
A report to the cabinet showed that the costs of the After the meeting, cabinet member Councillor Ben Stokes, said: “As a local councillor for Pucklechurch and the surrounding villages, I have serious concerns about the Eastern option proposed, which would run a link road for 4km through the green belt near to Pucklechurch. This option has much graver environmental implications, does less to combat congestion at key points on the traffic network, offers less in the way of economic growth, and has one third of the level of public support that the Western option has.”
Councillor Jon Hunt, who represents Downend, said: “The main reason for needing a new junction on the M4 is to ease congestion on the M32 and the ring road, which has so many drivers aiming for the M4 who have to travel either to Bristol or towards Bath. Giving these people the option of joining the motorway earlier will make life easier for local residents, by freeing up road space. The study clearly shows that the Western option is by far the best option for achieving this – to me it is a no-brainer that we have to back this route.”
Highways England will decide whether to take the scheme forward to the Department for Transport. Subject to funding and consent, the junction could be built from 2025.
Pucklechurch parish councillors, who led a strong campaign against the Eastern options, say they are delighted to have won the first stage of the battle but will keep up their opposition until the proposals are formally dropped, which could be as far away as 2022.
Labour councillors at South Gloucestershire have called for the Eastern option to be killed off as soon as possible.