Greens' fear over new bridge plans
HIGH-PROFILE environmental and heritage groups today joined the battle against plans to build a second road bridge across the Forth.
Organisations including RSPB Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, WWF Scotland and Scottish Civic Trust claim the potentially 1 billion project would prove "environmentally destructive".
They have joined the ForthRight Alliance - an umbrella group which successfully fought a similar scheme about ten years ago.
The fresh campaign comes as bridge operator Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) consults on the option of building another road link between South Queensferry and Fife.
The project, which is unlikely to be completed until 2018, would provide dual carriageways for vehicles but could also carry trams or trains.
The 40-year-old Forth Road Bridge is said to be carrying more than twice its anticipated load every day, with more than 24 million vehicles using the crossing last year.
Backers stress public transport would be given priority on any new link. But critics insist the plans would cause significant environmental damage.
Scottish Wildlife Trust policy and campaigns officer Stuart Hay said: "Whatever route the bridge takes it will damage or destroy a number of important wildlife sites and negatively affect the sensitive environment around the Forth Estuary.
"The spurious arguments for another bridge did not stack up in the 1990s and certainly don’t stack up now. Such a destructive project is both wholly unnecessary and incompatible with government commitments to conserve and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage."
WWF Scotland head of policy Dr Richard Dixon added: "A new bridge would be a disaster for climate-change emissions, would divert money that should be spent on bringing public transport into the 21st century and would promote unsustainable commuter lifestyles.
"FETA should get serious about improving public transport across the existing bridge instead of wasting time considering squandering money on this dinosaur scheme."
Officials with the RSPB Scotland also raised concerns about the plan’s impact on protected birds in the Firth of Forth.
Bill Cantley, who serves as convener of the ForthRight Alliance and vice-chairman of the Cockburn Association, today welcomed the additional support.
He said: "FETA should take notice of the growing national opposition and ditch plans for a new bridge.
"That way we can begin to deal with the real issue of reducing overall traffic levels."
The consultation into FETA’s proposals is due to close at the end of the month.
No-one from FETA was available for comment today.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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