All sides economical with the truth

PUBLISHED: 08:44 06 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:52 03 March 2010

WHEN all the dust from the borough election settles, one of the most important decisions that will have to be taken over the next few months is what should be done about access to the port of Ipswich.

WHEN all the dust from the borough election settles, one of the most important decisions that will have to be taken over the next few months is what should be done about access to the port of Ipswich.

After allowing the promoters of the Gainsborough Link a fairly free run over the last few months, environmental protesters are now starting to get their act together.

Last weekend's protests certainly attracted the attention – but frankly neither side of the argument can claim to be totally in the right.

Both are spinning the facts to twist the truth in a way that Alastair Campbell would be proud of.

The promoters of the road are quick to say that it wouldn't pass through Piper's Vale.

That's true – but it goes so near the vale that it would have an impact on it. It might be benign – opening up the Vale to more people – but it would change the character of that area of the Orwell Country Park.

They say the road would ease traffic in the town centre by taking lorries away from the port straight on to the A14.

That's true – but what about the traffic that uses it to come off the A14 to get into town, and lorries that aren't destined for the port?

It would make life easier for people living in Landseer Road and Nacton Road, but I can't see it removing many cars from Wherstead Road – or lorries that aren't port-bound.

And while the port of Ipswich is undoubtedly a major magnet for heavy goods vehicles, it isn't the only destination in town for them.

The protesters, too, are keen to spread disinformation.

Their protest at the weekend was at Bridge Wood, as if the new road would plunge through that and threaten the ancient oaks there.

It won't go anywhere near Bridge Wood – and they know it. They are trying to create opposition by encouraging people to be misled.

Let's look at the facts:

The new road would go through the area designated as the Orwell Country Park, but the A14 already goes through there and that has a much bigger impact on the environment.

The new road would miss Piper's Vale – but it would have an impact on it.

The new road would go through a nature reserve – but that was only designated a nature reserve after the road line was fixed.

There's also widespread scepticism about the claim that 250,000 people who visit the Orwell Country Park would have their enjoyment ruined by the new road.

The vast majority of visitors to the park go to Bridge Wood – which is some distance from the new road, and very few of them will walk all the way to Piper's Vale.

The existing Piper's Vale car park can only hold 10 cars – and I've yet to hear any complaints of people who can't go for a walk there because of a lack of space, which would certainly be the case if 250,000 people a year visited the area!

Residents of Landseer and Nacton Road would clearly benefit from the road by having port-related lorries removed from their roads.

Environmentalists would clearly hate the new road because it would affect Piper's Vale.

But before the final decision on whether it should be allowed is taken, the planning inspector, councillors – and government ministers – involved will have to look at the facts.

And not allow themselves to be misled by the two sides of the argument who are both spinning like a top!

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