Campaign to Protect Rural England - Somerset

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Roads in Somerset

Traffic Jam in Milverton Traffic Jam in Milverton

Many of Somerset's main roads are congested and our rural roads are busier and more dangerous than ever. The answer is not to build more roads and tarmac over yet more of our countryside. Society and transport planners need to look for appropriate alternatives.

It’s clear to see how road building damages the landscape. But the knock-on effects are less obvious, as the damage continues and builds up over the years.  

Increased traffic levels mean more air and noise pollution. Speeding traffic is a particularly dangerous problem in narrow, winding rural roads and in tranquil villages. Walking and cycling can be difficult if not dangerous – and even crossing the road becomes a challenge.

As people take advantage of new road capacity by making longer journeys, local shops and services close down. More and more land nearby is taken up by access roads and car parking. Peaceful lanes become urban thoroughfares. Carbon emissions shoot up and we become more dependent on oil from abroad.

Our viewWe believe traffic growth needs to be controlled – and then reversed. The Government should develop policies that reduce the number of car journeys people make, rather than try to increase transport capacity by building more roads. This can be through promoting car sharing as well as alternatives to driving. Local authorities should make it a requirement of new housing developments that they bring homes, businesses and schools together. Planners, politicians and engineers need to put walking and cycling at the centre of their thinking. We need a public transport system that people prefer over the car.

New roads are often presented as the solution to congestion, and a way to bring jobs and money into the area. Yet in reality, CPRE has found that congestion is simply moved along and investment travels out on roads as much as it comes in. We need to examine the other claims that are made for road-building schemes and see how those hold up.

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Somerset patchwork landscape