The Banwell Bypass Scheme- North Somerset’s planning disaster

North Somerset Council is planning to spend at least £66 million on a new 3.4 km road, the Banwell Bypass, plus an overspend, likely to be 20%-40% more, at a very high cost in carbon emissions contributing to climate change, with an increase in flood risk.

The Bypass and a new M5 Motorway junction 21A  are part of a plan to build up to 3,000 new houses on countryside near Banwell, which means thousands more cars on the A368 and A371, running through the 3 villages nearest to Banwell, Sandford, Churchill and Winscombe.  Countryside and farmland, part of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nature and wildlife, will be destroyed, and a protected drinking water source and rare bat habitat are threatened.

Why the Banwell Bypass Scheme should be scrapped:

1.There will be increased traffic and congestion as soon as the Bypass open.   The Banwell Bypass Scheme will increase traffic and congestion on the A368 and A371 as soon as the Bypass opens, with added traffic noise and air pollution for people living in Sandford Churchill and Winscombe.  Expert studies show that new roads lead to more traffic, induced traffic, as soon as the new road opens, with around half as much traffic again in the long term.. The Banwell Bypass contractors estimate around 25% more traffic within 2 years of the Bypass opening.

2. There will be thousands more vehicles on the A368 and A371 once the 3,000 unit commuter estate near Banwell is built. Everyone using the the A368 and A371 will experience much more congestion, jams, and pollution.

A new road link to the A370  from the new houses is discussed in the Council’s Transport Assessment for the new Local Plan. The Bypass will open up the area north of Banwell to even more housing in the future, over and above the 3,000 units planned for.

3. Local traffic including HGVs will still travel through Banwell village centre.  ..  .   Commuters will still be able to cut through Banwell village centre to access the A38 southbound via Winscombe and the A371. .Studies show regrowth of traffic levels on bypassed roads long term

4.. People living in the new 1,500 to 3,000 housing estate will use their cars for most journeys , using the Bypass and the new M5 junction 21A .  The houses are more than 2km from the nearest facilities.

Both the Council’s new Local Plan Transport Assessment and the Transport for New Homes Report:  ‘Garden Village and Garden Towns: Vision and Reality’ predict that this housing estate will depend on car use, as bus services for this estate are unlikely to be achieved for some time.  Government funding for bus services is lacking. Developers do not provide bus services, and the Council cannot afford to. The existing trend for car use in rural areas will continue.  87% of North Somerset households have access to at least one car, and in some rural areas car ownership is double the UK average.  Over 84% of people travel to work by car.

5..There are more sustainable alternatives available to reduce congestion in Banwell than building a new road. Frequent modern public transport, on demand community transport, would cut down on car use.  Demand responsive traffic lights, width restrictions, road pricing are other options. Department for Transport WebTAG advice on good transport assessment practice is to Investigate the alternatives but none have been disclosed by the Council.

6 The Bypass Scheme will increase carbon emissions leading to destructive climate change and will increase flood risk.

Increased carbon emissions  from building  the Bypass are estimated at 64 kilotonnes

Increased carbon emissions from a minimum 3,000 additional cars are estimated at 6 kilotonnes a year

So far, the Council has not disclosed or publicly consulted on the carbon cost of the Bypass scheme. The Council has committed to review all major schemes for their impact on carbon emissions.

Transport remains the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK.  Emissions from road transport account for 42% of North Somerset’s entire carbon dioxide emissions. 

North Somerset must reduce its carbon emissions by 13.9% a year if it is to reach net zero by 2040, the Tyndall Report says.   The Bypass Scheme undermines this by adding substantial carbon emissions each year.  

We need to reduce car trips in the UK by a minimum of 20%  a year, some studies say between 40-50% less car trips a year, to cut carbon emissions leading to irreversible climate change.  65% of cars will still be diesel or petrol by 2030.  

7. The Bypass Scheme will damage the environment.:  The Bypass will destroy countryside, local green space, nature and wildlife including cutting across protected bat species and otter habitat. It will damage the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and landscape. The Bypass goes through a groundwater source protection zone and risks contaminating the drinking water supply for Weston- super- Mare and the surrounding area. The prominent concrete and tarmac new road will have a permanent impact on Banwell’s countryside setting, the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, landscape and tranquillity, with noise air and light pollution.  The plans so far do not show that the scheme complies with the West of England Nature Recovery Plans for a strategic green network in this sensitive area, or the North Somerset Green Infrastructure Strategy, or the requirement to increase biodiversity.

8. The Banwell Bypass Scheme goes against good planning for health and wellbeing for people and communities.                                                                                                                                        TThe coronavirus lockdown brought home to us the importance of open green spaces, nature around us, being able to take exercise and walk and cycle safely to keep in good mental and physical health, and being able to access everyday needs locally.

Government guidance to local authorities on public health includes promoting walking and cycling, active travel, and planning for this in Council-decision making.

 Public Health England advice highlights how physical activity has significant physical and mental  health benefits, including on cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. There are wide additional benefits for this approach. It reduces demands on the NHS, and the need for social care which is a large part of the Council’s budgeting responsibility.

For people in Banwell, the Bypass will bring less traffic, less noise, and reduced air pollution. However, traffic through Banwell Centre and the Narrows will continue after the Bypass is built, and is expected to build up again long term.

For people in Sandford, Churchill and Winscombe, the Bypass will bring many more cars driving near homes, schools, Sandford retirement complex, more HGVs, more traffic collisions, more air pollution, more noise.   Increased traffic makes cycling and walking less attractive for many, which will get much worse after the new housing is built.  

The Bypass plans do not include cycling routes or increased bus services through Sandford, Churchill or Winscombe.  The issues around the safe Walking and Cycling to School route from Winscombe to Churchill Academy are still not resolved

The Council has produced an Active Travel Strategy, which includes cycling schemes for the towns and larger villages Yatton, Backwell and Long Ashton, but not the other villages.

Other local authorities are planning for healthier, happier low-traffic neighbourhoods and Liveable Neighbourhoods. The Council’s Bypass Scheme will bring high-level traffic misery to the  village communities near Banwell, with no real prospect of this being relieved, going on Banwell’s experience..  A campaign to reduce congestion in Banwell was started in the 1930s,  but will only now have partial success with the Bypass Scheme.

9. The Banwell Bypass Scheme goes against Equality Act considerations and fairness:

There is a large gap in Council planning and provision for active travel and bus service improvements for most of the villages and rural areas, highlighted by the fact that the new West of England Bus Service Improvement Plan doesn’t include any planning for ‘ rural and suburban corridors’ in North Somerset  until 2024/25.  Realistically, nothing will happen for some time after that, as the other funding priorities will be carried out first, as and when funding is available.

Studies show that a bus for every village every hour is possible and that local authorities can make it happen, if there is the political will, at far less cost than a new road.

Young people, much older people, people on low incomes, people who live in isolated rural locations and the smaller villages, disabled people, disadvantaged people, people who don’t have access to a private car, are all affected to a greater extent by a lack of transport planning and provision for their needs. They need sustainable public transport, not a new road. 

the Council is under a legal duty to promote equality, and has taken decisions which will disproportionately disadvantage people living in Sandford, Churchill and Winscombe, who will be  adversely affected by the Bypass Scheme.

  • The Council has chosen a Banwell Bypass Scheme which inflicts increased traffic, noise, air pollution, community severance, with negative impacts on health and wellbeing, on people living in three rural villages, Sandford,  Churchill and Winscombe.  The Bypass Scheme will divert some of the existing traffic flow away from Banwell, but the Council was aware that a much greater traffic flow, added to by the cars from the new housing near Banwell, would flow through Sandford, Churchill and Winscombe.  So far, there is nothing planned which will reduce that traffic flow.   
  • The Council has chosen to defer active travel schemes and bus services improvements for residents living in villages including Sandford, Churchill and Winscombe until after the larger settlements are provided for, at some uncertain time in the future when funding can be found.  Despite this, the Council has made no provisions to mitigate the effects of the Bypass Scheme when it opens.   This is contrary to principles of equality, and fairness.

10. The Banwell Bypass Scheme goes against good land use planning and the emerging Local Plan.

The Council is promoting a large unsustainable housing estate in the countryside, which goes against the emerging Local Plan’s preferred strategy of urban intensification, building around existing larger settlements. The Bypass Scheme will use up scarce greenfield land, which could otherwise be used for growing food, as a wildlife and amenity area, and for carbon capture in a time of climate emergency, on a housing  project which will mainly profit large development companies, not people who need affordable housing close to jobs and facilities where they don’t have to afford a car. Bloor Homes contributed to the costs of the Housing Infrastructure Fund application for the Bypass Scheme.  The original ‘Banwell Garden Village’ was part of the  Joint Spatial Plan rejected by the Housing Inspectors two years ago, and should not now be resuscitated.

Countryside and coastline are major North Somerset natural assets in economic terms. From the Council’s Corporate Plan: The area hosts an estimated 7.8 million day visit trips and over 500,000 staying visitor trips a year, with a total visitor spend estimated at £328 million a year (2017 data). Destroying countryside,  an important element in attracting visitors and businesses to North Somerset, makes no sense at all.   Why is the Council killing the goose that lays the golden egg, by building over countryside and AONB?

There are brownfield sites in North Somerset which should be built on preferentially, encouraged by government funding for brownfield housing development 

  • Banwell Bypass Scheme goes against the West of England Combined Authority decarbonisation aims and National Planning Policy Framework provisions on promoting healthy and safe communities,  promoting sustainable transport and meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal damage.

 The Council’s Joint Local Transport Plan JLTP4, the West of England Climate Emergency Action Plan, and the  North Somerset Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan all state that the Council has to review all proposed major transport schemes for their effect on achieving net zero emissions by 2030.  If the Bypass Scheme has been reviewed, the results have not been disclosed. 

The Bypass Scheme increases congestion, car use, carbon emissions, damages the environment, does not promote health and wellbeing, healthy and safe communities, equalities and fairness, and hinders sustainable transport alternatives to road building.  The Scheme is a massive burden on scarce Council resources and will take away funding from other community projects.

All new build schemes being built in the 2020s must be compliant with the pathway to net zero carbon by 2050.

  1. The Banwell Bypass Scheme contradicts the Council’s commitment to be open green and fair, and to include climate change as a deciding factor in all policy and strategy decisions

Other Councils are reviewing their transport projects to take account of their carbon cost and the Climate Emergency. Hereford Council have dropped their Bypass Plan. The Council is called on to carry out a full review of the Banwell Bypass Scheme, with a view to scrapping it, a nd adopting sustainable alternatives to reduce congestion in Banwell.


  • The Climate Change Act 2008 now commits the UK to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, and to five-yearly carbon budgets between now and then… the majority (around 65%) of cars on the road in 2030 will still be petrol and diesel. In order to stay within a Paris-compliant fair carbon budget, we estimate we will need to make cuts in car traffic of around 40-50% by 2030 compared to current traffic levels.

Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), a consortium of universities, estimates that a 30-50% reduction in total car mileage is needed by 2030, relative to 20209 .                                                                                                                                                                      • UK – analysis by Green Alliance estimates that a 20-30% reduction in total car mileage is needed by 2030, relative to 201910 .                                                                                                                                                    • Scotland – analysis by Element Energy for the Scottish Government supports a target of a 20% reduction in total car mileage by 2030, relative to 201911 .                                                                           • Wales – the Welsh Government has committed to reduce the number of car miles travelled per person by 10% by 2030, relative to 201912                                                                                                                    • Bristol – analysis found that meeting the City’s net zero target by 2030 will need nearly all vehicles to be electrified and car mileage to be cut almost in half

Transport for Quality of Life:

Liveable Neighbourhoods

  • AECOM Transport Assessment North Somerset Local Plan commissioned by North Somerset Council  April 2021

( 4 )North Somerset Council  Climate Emergency Strategy Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan,the%20seven%20key%20principleswithin%20our%20Climate%20Emergency%20Strategy.

(5) RICS. Possible impacts of materials shortages in the UK 2021,and%20by%205.6%25%20compared%20with%20a%20year%20earlier

(4) NS Green Infrastructure Strategy 2021

Based on our analysis, for North Somerset to make its ‘fair’ contribution towards the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the following recommendations should be adopted:

  1. Stay within a maximum cumulative carbon dioxide emissions budget of 6.9 million tonnes (MtCO2) for the period of 2020 to 2100. At 2017 CO2 emission levelsiii, North Somerset would use this entire budget within 6 years from 2020.
  2. Initiate an immediate programme of CO2 mitigation to deliver cuts in emissions averaging a minimum of -13.9% per year to deliver a Paris aligned carbon budget. These annual reductions in emissions require national and local action, and could be part of a wider collaboration with other local authorities

The embodied carbon cost of the Banwell Bypass can be calculated, provisionally, on costs not exceeding £66 million as stated by North Somerset Council, as 64 kilotonnes ( EE-IOA methodology ( kg CO2e/£) of 0.98 per £ spent)

Embodied carbon is sometimes referred to as “capital carbon”.

“Capital carbon. PAS2080 defines capital carbon as GHG emissions that can be associated with the creation, refurbishment and end of life treatment of an asset. This follows for all infrastructure sectors which have similar sources of capital carbon. This includes the emissions associated with the use of materials, such as concrete and steel, the use of construction plant, such as excavators or tunnel boring machines, and the transport of materials and plant to construction sites. This will occur for all construction activities be they directed to new build, maintenance or refurbishment. Capital carbon emissions also arise at end of life and are associated with demolition, waste processing and any final treatment/disposal. Carbon emissions from transportation which occurs as part of any of these activities is considered to be capital carbonBritish Standards Institution, PAS 2080:2016 Carbon Management in Infrastructure

There will be a further 5.9 Kilotonnes of carbon a year in transport emissions, if the Council permits up to  3,000 new housing units to be built in the countryside near Banwell, accessed by the Bypass.  This is based on the assumption that cars’ average carbon dioxide emissions are 156.6g/km ( grammes per kilometre), with an average annual car mileage of 7,900 ( 12,64 km)) and a conservative estimate of one car per household, 3,000 cars. 

( 156.6 x 12, 640 = 1979 kilogrammes  x 3,000 = 5,936,000 Kilogrammes  or 5.93 kilo tonnes )

Transport for Quality of Life:  The Impact of Road Projects in England, 2017 (P.55)

 Highways England data:

4.    East of the M5 near Banwell

• A new bypass has been confirmed (anticipated to be completed by 2024) to mitigate the effects of increased traffic in the area and relieve traffic through Banwell, as well as support the proposed growth. This does however suggest a potential for the growth here to be a car dominated as the new infrastructure is designed to alleviate congestion, as well as the proximity of the development to the M5   AECOM Transport Assessment North Somerset Local Plan for North Somerset Council April 2021

.This Report  found that the 20 Garden communities looked at in detail would create up to 200,000 car-dependent households.   Developments were planned for the wrong location, far from existing town  centres and rail station, or the nearest local facilities.  Funding for walking, cycling and public transport is missing We could find no garden community where the sustainable transport elements were costed and funded with delivery dates.

Cycling underfunded. The number of completely funded cycle networks for garden towns was zero. Garden villages were on the whole too far away from towns to cycle or involved dangerous roads Transport for New Homes: Garden Villages and Garden  Towns: Visions and Reality:

  Greener Transport Solutions: Department for Transport, WebTAG: This is the Department for Transport’s website for guidance on the conduct of transport studies. The guidance includes or provides links to advice on how to:—  set objectives and identify problems;—  develop potential solutions;—  create a transport model for the appraisal of the alternative solutions;—  and how to conduct an appraisal which meets the Department’s requirements.

The website also includes advice on the modelling and appraisal appropriate for major highway and public transport schemes.  The guidance should be seen as a requirement for all projects/studies that require government approval. For projects/studies that do not require government approval TAG should serve as a best practice guide.

West of England Nature Partnership Nature Recovery Network.

Government Guidance on Promoting healthy and safe communities: 2019

Public Health England Guidance: Physical Activity: applying All our Health

See Page 86 for Schemes: North Somerset Council Active Travel Strategy

See Page 103 for Delivery Timeline,  Bus Service Improvement Plan 

A Bus Every Village Every Hour is Possible.  CPRE Report    ),of%20life%20for%20all%20by%20funding%20buses%20better.

The time is right for free fare local public transport   Professor John Whitelegg

  ‘Transport is pre-eminently a human rights issue- people without access to transport can’t function properly in the society we have built.  We have come to tolerate a degree of discrimination against non-motorist far beyond what in recent years has increasingly come to be seen as unacceptable for, say, disabled people, or sexual minorities’ Dr Simon Norton, foreward to the Shropshire Bus Report 2018

UK government documents on transport and the economy RCEP, 1994 : In the Treasury’s view it is not possible to generalise about the importance of transport infrastructure as a factor in bringing about economic growth in depressed or deprived regions..a recent study concluded that road building is not the key to economic growth in the regions..indeed it seems that good roads can sometimes speed the decline of less prosperous areas by allowing their needs to be met conveniently from sources outside the area (para 2.14, page 15)

SACTRA 1999 The SACTRA report on Transport and the Economy was the culmination of a 3 year inquiry chaired by Eileen Mackay CB into claims of economic benefit from road schemes. The report notes (summary, page 17, paragraph 11) that the contribution of road construction to sustainable economic growth of a mature economy, with well-developed transport systems, is likely to be modest. It states that the results of studies of the economic impact of completed transport projects “do not offer convincing general evidence of the size, nature or direction of local economic impacts”. The report goes on to state “Our studies underline the conclusion that generalisations about the effects of transport on the economy are subject to strong dependence on specific local circumstances and conditions.” SACTRA 2000 While in certain circumstances transport schemes may bring added economic benefits to an area needing regeneration, in other circumstances the opposite might occur. Better communications will enlarge markets for goods, services and workers: the area as a whole may gain or lose from this depending on the structure and competitiveness of the local economy. It follows that there is no simple, unambiguous link between transport provision and local regeneration

 All planning decisions matter for decarbonising transport. Although any given individual decision on a housing development or commercial site might seem small in terms of overall transport demand, every planning decision builds-in an inherent advantage to one kind of transport or another that lasts for decades.

To meet new housing targets outlined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), new residential locations are often chosen based on how quickly these sites can be developed. As discussed in the 2018 Transport for New Homes report13, this approach inevitably leads to car-dependent communities. If a transport assessment is required of the developer, it is often limited to an impact assessment on road traffic nearby. Furthermore, if road accessibility is not already present, developers can request government assistance to co-fund new roads. Such practices are inconsistent with the UK’s climate targets and increasingly at risk of legal challenge.

15 Local plans and the climate emergency All new build schemes being built in the 2020s must be compliant with a pathway to net zero carbon by 2050. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) places, amongst other things, a requirement on councils to mitigate climate change and move to a low carbon economy

Local Government Association Decarbonising Transport

  Foundation for Integrated Transport: Professor John Whitelegg:  Herefordshire council Decision to Drop their Bypass

Recycling our Land: state of brownfield 2021   The South West 68,081 brownfield units  North Somerset has brownfield 3142 units ( Bristol brownfield units:  12136) )

Government release on brownfield use 12.10.21:

Banwell Spring: looking after our local drinking water source the West of England Joint Local Transport Plan 4 (JLTP4) – led by the West of England Combined Authority, working with Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils – sets out the vision for transport up to 2036. It shows how we will aim to achieve a well-connected sustainable transport network that works for residents across the region; a network that offers greater, realistic travel choices and makes walking, cycling and public transport the natural way to travel. ).  The Joint Committee Report on the JLTP4 Transport Plan states: ‘. Any schemes identified in JLTP4 would be subject to further detailed feasibility work and consultation, as well as requiring planning permission.’  This includes the Banwell Bypass as an identified scheme. West of England Climate Emergency Action Plan Sept 2020: Low  Carbon Transport. To achieve this goal ( by 2030) , we will need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions in the region as well as adapt to the impacts of climate change such as increased heat, drought and flooding. This will require changes in the way that we act and make decisions.

Action Plan appendix A: S ( 1-2 years)  Review all proposed major transport schemes in the JLTP4 against the emerging evidence base for meeting our jointly stated ambition of carbon neutral emissions by 2030. JLTP4 contains several road schemes which may have an impact on carbon emissions. All schemes will be looked at in the context of the proposed physical infrastructure, the mode of transport, its effects on the wider transport network and the environment. S  Page 30   The North somerset Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan,  under Become a net zero carbon council:  states ‘ Assess all major council projects for their impacts on carbon emissions’, and under u Reduce emissions from transport states :’ Continue to drive project delivery to shift from private car use’ . ‘A more detailed working plan that informs the work programme for North Somerset Council and partners includes additional detail on calculations for carbon emission reductions, quantity of greenhouse gas removals of each action, financial estimates, ease of delivery, and specific targets for each year to 2030 ‘ referred to is not available online.

The Transport Assessment doesn’t assess the Bypass as such, referring to it as Future and proposed Transport Scheme. If the Urban Intensification strategy is followed, the Bypass would be ruled out.  The Bypass is described at  5.4.1:

 ‘Early investment scheme under Development: E20 Banwell bypass (MtL) ( Mtl is explained as ‘ more than likely’ to happen but there is some uncertainty ( as opposed to NC, ‘ Near Certain: there is a high probability that it will happen.))  Typically, schemes with a probability of Near Certain or More than Likely would form part of a core scenario, when used for future forecasting’ , and states it appears in the ‘North Somerset Transport Modelling Uncertainty Log ( as of Jan 2021) P.35/45)

Transport Assessment North Somerset Council             

From the Council’s Transport and Infrastructure Capital Works Programme 2021-2024 in March 2021, at Scheme Reference No IT0228 , the Banwell Bypass  Project Objectives are given as: (a) to deliver infrastructure that maximises, underpins and de-risks associated housing development in the shortest possible timeline;

(b) to deliver infrastructure that is affordable and provides good value for money

(c) to deliver infrastructure that meets the needs of all stakeholders including developers and local communities; and

(d) to minimise environmental impacts and maximises opportunities for sustainable travel and biodiversity net gain

Proposed Physical Deliverables are given as: . Design, Land Negotiations and Procurement 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 Planning and Public Inquiry 2021/2022 Construction 2023 and 2024:    

Evaluation form Complete?  No     Evaluation Rating N/a        Evaluation Score n/a

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