Magpie 26 – “Road to Ruin” #TwyfordDown

MacGregor, J. (1993) Roads to Ruin. Magpie 26, p.2-3

Road to Ruin by Jon MacGregor

The destruction of Twyford Down has received much coverage in the media. Perhaps more so than any other act of destruction of this country’s environment and heritage. However, though primed by all of this information, I was still unprepared for the sight of the diggings as I climbed over the fence at 7 am one Saturday. A bright white gash has appeared in one of the country’s nest beautiful and protected sites. The contrast between the gorgeous music of the dawn chorus and the rumble of the machinery as it awoke with belchings of smoke continued throughout the day. The birds seemed to be singing more defiantly than ever.

Twyford Down is supposed to be one of the most protected parts of this country. It is an Area of Outstanding National Beauty, it has two Sites of Special Scientific Interest and two Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Yet, despite all this protection, and over twenty years of campaigning against the extension of the M3, the area is being trashed for the sake of cutting five minutes off the journey time between Winchester and Southampton.

The system designed to, supposedly, protect our environment has been ignored. There has been a catalogue of abuse, for example: appointing environmental consultants after the route was chosen; being neconordcal with the truth” about where the SSSIs and SAMs are (were); ignorIng European Directives on Environmental Impact Assessments. The list goes on, and there is another list of the abuses of the rights of people who have spent years fighting the road.

One of the densest concentrations of motorways in the world is planned for Greater Manchester. Some of the plans are widening the M6 M63 and M62; extension of the M66 and the Greater Manchester, Western and Northern Relief Road, along with pIans for a new road to the airport. Much of this will pass through green belt and quiet rural areas. So, what hope is there for those who doubt the need for these developments. We can campaign, but the Government must be feeling quite secure  in the knowledge that it has been able to destroy one of the most highly protected areas in the country. What opposition will come from the destruction of mere greenbelt?
Currently the plans being drawn up for Manchester are all separate. However, when looked at as a whole, it becomes apparent that what is planned is the equivalent of an M25 for the city; a motorway all the way round. What is needed is for the campaign against each bit of destruction to be co-ordinated. It is vital that people in the south of the city realise they are fighting exactly the same road as those in the north. Without this sort of co-operation, the road lobby will win, and many of the remaining wildlife habitats will disappear, as surely as the great beauty of Twyford Down is now being destroyed. /6/

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