Campaigners voice link road fears for wildlife

Amberswood Common, woodland and cycle path from Liverpool Road to Wigan Road, Hindley - large holes in the ground have appeared after tests on the ground, on the route of proposed new link road
Amberswood Common, woodland and cycle path from Liverpool Road to Wigan Road, Hindley - large holes in the ground have appeared after tests on the ground, on the route of proposed new link road
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A CAMPAIGN group protesting against plans to stop a link road being run through a popular green space has hit out at Wigan Council.

The Amberswood Guardians (TAG) have criticised proposals to lessen the loss of wildlife habitats because of a link road between Ince and Hindley and how the town hall has handled the planning applications.

The group says plans to place two ponds in the area for wildlife will not be an adequate replacement as many of the protected species in the area live in running water. Members also accused the authority of attaching an application for the mitigation work to an application for the already-approved road between Phoenix Way and Seaman Way, from which the planned link road would run across Amberswood Common to meet Liverpool Road.

TAG secretary Hazel McGuinness said: “We’re upset about this because it’s been so deviously done.

“It seems to us like the council is trying to sneak it in through the back door. The ponds will be created to mitigate the effects of the road on the protected species in the area, but the problem is they now live in a running water course and these will be stagnant, so it’s not like-for-like habitat replacement. That’s a major concern for us. The road will be very damaging to the habitat of species which have to be protected.

Another objection is that the land set aside for the ponds has previously been treated with a chemical which is banned in Europe but not in this country in order to stop the spread of giant hogweed.”

Questions have also been raised about how a link road can be run across common land to which the public is supposed to have rights of access. The council’s proposals stalled earlier this year after a planning inspector rejected a council application to de-register the common land along the route.

Group chairman Coun Jim Ellis has suggested an alternative route between Ince and Platt Bridge running along a disused railway line. He said: “The council has turned around and told me it is too expensive. How do they know this when they’ve never looked into it?

“I realise something wants to be done about the traffic but I think the damage they are going to do with this doesn’t justify it. I’m against a link road that brings nothing to Hindley but a load of hassle. I think the public is getting a raw deal.”

Mike Worden, assistant director for planning and transport at Wigan Council, said: “A planning application has been submitted for two new ponds.

“The ponds are required to provide new habitat for great crested newts and water voles. That road already has planning consent but a requirement of the planning permission is that the ponds have to be created before construction can start.

“The Amberswood link road is a separate road which does not have planning permission. An application for that section of road, which is proposed to connect Phoenix Way with Liverpool Road, will be made in due course. Local residents will be consulted and the council will take the views of local residents and ecological experts in to account before making a decision.

“The council continues to adhere to independently assessed ecological mitigation requirements and advice on all its infrastructure schemes.”