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New row over dock road

PUBLISHED: 15:30 13 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:01 03 March 2010

WHEN is a nature reserve not a nature reserve? When it's in the way of a new road!

A new row is brewing over a possible link road between the east bank of Ipswich docks and the A14.

WHEN is a nature reserve not a nature reserve? When it's in the way of a new road!

A new row is brewing over a possible link road between the east bank of Ipswich docks and the A14.

Ipswich Council's new Local Plan map shows the road going through the nature reserve at Piper's Vale – but a closer look reveals that it doesn't go through the Vale itself.

Instead it passes through the abandoned allotments off Morland Road – which have recently been designated as a nature reserve.

The change was seized on by Conservatives on Suffolk County Council's Sustainable Suffolk Theme Panel when the Ipswich Local Plan was debated.

"The objections to the east bank route are mainly based on its environmental impact at Piper's Vale," said Tory spokeswoman Joanna Spicer.

"But a close look at the map shows that it doesn't go through Piper's Vale, it's just that the old allotments have been re-drawn as a nature reserve to justify that objection."

The old allotments were not classified as a nature reserve when the last local plan was prepared in 1994 – but Ipswich Council's head of strategic planning and regeneration Sue Arnold confirmed they had been designated as such within the last few years.

"We went through the procedure for designation – it is a procedure that is only open for land in the ownership of local authorities," she said.

The theme panel backed a report by Suffolk officers which says that the East Bank route offers a better chance of easing traffic problems around the docks than a combination of a new Wherstead Road relief road and river crossing – the option favoured by Ipswich Council.

Suffolk's portfolio holder for environment and transport, Labour's Joan Girling, denied that this represented a split between the two authorities.

"It is early days in the process of drawing up the local plan – there will be a lot of discussions between the two authorities over the next few months," she said.

Port owners ABP are due to meet borough councillors next week to underline their objection to plans for a bridge over the New Cut and lock gates – and to proposals for a Wherstead Road relief road.

"The lock is very busy, especially during the summer," said port manager Robert Smith. "Between June and September the bridge would be open almost all the time every weekend.

"The lock itself takes about 30 minutes to open and close to let vessels through – it would be closed to traffic at least 20 per cent of the time throughout the year," he said.


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