Rapid transit route protesters slam proposal as a 'Tarmac scar'
Campaigners fighting against a controversial bus route have said it will create a concrete scar through their community.
Pressure group Response2Route was formed in February last year to protest against plans by Bath and North East Somerset Council to build a bus rapid transit system to connect the park-and-ride sites at Newbridge and Bathampton.
The BRT is part of a £60 million transport package which would also include extension of existing park- and-ride sites and the construction of a new park-and-ride site at Bathampton Meadows.
In April, B&NES Council is aiming to discuss the four separate applications which it submitted to itself last month.
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If it is given the green light the local authority is hoping the package, which it describes as a "21st century transportation network", would be up and running by 2012.
It has rejected suggestions of running BRT buses along the Upper and Lower Bristol Roads and says that option would jeopardise the government funding which will pay for most of the work.
But members of Response2Route, which has presented the council with a list of alternative methods to cut congestion, say the BRT scheme will be a dividing factor in their community.
Protester and former councillor Pam Richards has lived in the area close to the route for more than 30 years and said the current green area – a former railway track – earmarked for the work had been a unifying force for good.
She said: "This route will be a Tarmac scar right through the area.
"The whole route is backed on to by houses and the homeowners along the way don't have big gardens.
"A lot of these are social housing and it is not an especially affluent area.
"We think the whole thing is a disaster."
Mrs Richards said the BRT was not the answer to city centre congestion problems and the council should focus its attention on developing better public transport connections with outlying areas rather than extending park-and-ride sites which would increase the number of cars driving towards Bath.
She said: "Bath has a congestion problem but this is not the solution.
"The problem is in the city centre, on London Road and with the school run and through traffic."
Mrs Richards said Response2Route would continue to fight against the BRT proposals and would ask for the decision to be called in by ministers if the application was given the go-ahead.
The group's founder, sculptor Jo McCarron, said the council's plans took an aerial view and approached the problem as a technical or engineering issue.
She said: "The green corridor and the foliage on it (the BRT route) play a major part in maintaining the fine balance between residential and industrial.
"The trees form a natural barrier between the two conflicting areas, softening both the view of the landscape and the noise and light pollution from industry."
B&NES Council can no longer comment directly on the applications because it is dealing with them as a planning authority.
It has previously said extensive landscaping and tree-planting would form an important part of the BRT scheme.
It argues the route would provide an essential link between the park-and- ride schemes to the west and east of the city.
B&NES said the route would enhance the local environment with improvements for cyclists, pedestrians and environmentally-friendly buses using cleaner fuels.