Transport Campaign Group
The A30 Bodmin to Indian Queens
Goss Moor BriefingThe A30 trunk road between Innis Downs, Bodmin, and Indian Queens is a single carriageway stretch of road between two stretches of dual carriageway and is part of the main road link between Cornwall and the rest of Britain, traversing Goss Moor National Nature Reserve, a site of international ecological significance.
The route has been described by supporters
of its upgrading to a dual carriageway as a 'bottle neck' or as the 'weakest link'
on the A30. This characterisation of the road as an unmodernized, restricted capacity
section between two high speed sections, colours much of the support for dualling.
In 1994 a public enquiry 'conference' was held in Cornwall to consider "options for overcoming traffic problems" between Bodmin and Indian Queens. Cornwall FoE Transport Group argued for non-dualling options at the conference, but the conference concluded that a dual carriageway road was needed, and that the preferred route could redirect a local branch railway line between Par & Newquay and utilize the track bed where it runs parallel to the road.
Following the 1995 government review of
trunk roads, work on the scheme was put on hold. In July 1998, following a further
comprehensive review of the trunk road programme, the government announced that
preparatory work could re-start. In September 1999 Parkman and the environmental
consultancy RPS were appointed by the Highways Agency (HA) to investigate options
for removing the bottleneck as part of the government's "new approach to
The main arguments put forward to promote
the upgrading to dual carriageway are:
Moreover, it has not been demonstrated that the single carriageway is the cause of congestion, far less that it is the only or even the main cause of congestion. Traffic queues are likely to result from the roundabout at Innis Downs, behind waiting right turning vehicles at minor road junctions, from confusion at the low bridge, or from accidents; none of these require a full blown dualling of the entire road to correct or minimise the effects of congestion.
The relationship between regional economic prosperity and road building is increasingly questioned, and is becoming particularly discredited in the case of so-called peripheral regions. The 1998 Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA) Report has crystallised current thinking on the subject, and concludes that there is no automatic link between accessibility and levels of economic activity . It is increasingly recognised that improved communications act as a drain of resources away from peripheral areas by increasing the possibility to centralise production and distribution.
A recent study was quoted by the SW Regional Development Agency to suggest that 1300 or more jobs would be created in mid and west Cornwall as a result of the dualling. This conclusion would seem to be based on little more than anecdotal evidence from local businesses and the supposition that if the A30 was dualled, growth rates in the west of Cornwall could be expected to increase at a rate equal to half that of growth rates in the east of Cornwall, over a similar time period to that of European Objective 1 funding.
As a basis for forecasting the job creation effects of road construction this is something of a non- starter; in effect it says nothing more than that if an arbitrary target is reached then 1an equally arbitrary number of jobs will have been created. At a more fundamental level, however, it would be preposterous to suggest that the difference between east and west is attributable solely or even mainly to the presence of a six mile stretch of single carriageway road between the two. If indeed travel time and by extension cost really matters in economic decisions, it would be illogical for anyone ever to locate into peripheral areas; the west would be doomed to be remote and disadvantaged compared with the east, and Cornwall would be doomed to be remote and disadvantaged compared with Devon, and so on.
There is no evidence to suggest any deterrent effect of the single carriageway on tourism. On the contrary, Cornwall has a long history of bottlenecks at holiday periods, and an equally long history as a popular and overcrowded tourist destination, which strongly suggests that Cornwall's attractions outweigh possible delays in getting here.
Problem sections of the road would be tackled individually as part of an overall programme. For example if the case for re-routing the branch line is as strong as is made out, it can take place and the low bridge be removed; there is no compulsion to put a second carriageway on the track bed, and if the rail line is not re-routed the problems of the low bridge can be tackled for example by lowering the road, raising the bridge or replacing the bridge.
Redistribution of traffic
· Nearly half of accidents were at junctions - for instance at the Innis Downs roundabout where a quarter of all injury accidents occurred.
· Nine 'shunt' accidents occurred largely at the ends of queues of traffic (many, again, at junctions), the solution to which lies in the removal of the causes of the hold up - not necessarily by dualling.
Nature Conservation Issues
Research has shown that traffic pollution can impact on heathland ecology up to 200m from a road, so that a new carriageway on the rail bed would push the impact zone up to 80m further into the reserve.
The Department of Environment, Transport
and the Regions (DETR) new Appraisal Guidance for Trunk Roads  makes it necessary
to fully assess the environmental impact of any scheme taking into account noise,
air quality, landscape, biodiversity, heritage and water. Because of the potential
loss of habitat, impact on species and spread of pollution effects, it is clear
that encroaching on the moor would be classed, according to the Guidance, as having
a serious adverse impact or, as a cSAC, as simply unacceptable.
For instance, research has indicated a high percentage of local traffic on this stretch of road and significant concentrations of vehicles with similar start/destination points. Yet no work is being carried out to investigate complementary traffic reduction measures: car share schemes, car clubs, green commuter plans, demand responsive public transport.
Improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists must also be considered. A third of people in the region are unlikely to have access to a car and dualling this stretch of road will do nothing to improve accessibility for non-car users such as those on a low income, children, teenagers, the elderly and the infirm - and will only serve to increase their social exclusion.
Similar research should investigate options for reducing the number of visitors to Cornwall by car, for instance through the encouragement of greater rail usage (child-friendly facilities, cheaper fares, package deals between the rail company and holiday accommodation); better local buses serving visitor attractions; holiday accommodation which arranges pick-up/drop-off services at public transport points, bicycle hire etc.
Freight traffic information is inadequate, including basic knowledge as to lorry destinations and of what percentage are travelling partially/totally empty. When attempting to quantify the economic impact of delays on the A30, there is a need to take into account the reliability of the entire journey, including non-Cornish sections.
A multi-modal freight transfer site is proposed for Cornwall, yet to date no information has been made available as to the percentage reduction of trips along the A30 (and elsewhere) which this will facilitate and its consequent impact on traffic flow figures.
Since the planning conference in 1994 CFoE Transport Group (CFoETG) has opposed the dualling proposals for this stretch of road.
CFoETG believes that:
· in line with the governments own
advisory committee, SACTRA , providing more roadspace exacerbates traffic growth,
neutralising efforts in the long term to solve congestion
The current work being undertaken by the consultants is lacking proper research into the root causes of the problems with the greatest attention being focussed on dualling proposals.
CFoETG believes much more emphasis needs to be put on looking into non-roads options for the A30 at Goss Moor and at proper detailed research into it's perceived problems. It is simply not sufficient to base decisions of this magnitude on hearsay and anecdote or make an assumption that to be taken seriously in the modern world, a big road is better than a small one.
There is no evidence that road building guarantees economic success, and whatever happens at Goss Moor, west Cornwall will remain physically peripheral to much of the UK.
The region needs to play to its strengths and use the funding opportunities offered by Objective 1 to develop its public transport services, rail freight facilities, renewable energy resources, sustainable tourism, pollution prevention and sound land management.
The resulting stable economy should be able
to deliver an improved environment and better quality of life and put Cornwall's
economy several years ahead of its competitors instead of a few minutes closer
 Transport & the Economy, SACTRA,