In an unprecedented step, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones is to lead a protest walk this weekend against the idea of a relief road near Nidd Gorge nature spot.
Although the traffic congestion ideas addressed by North Yorkshire County Council's online public survey are diverse and wide-ranging, it's the idea of a new road from Bilton to Forest Lane near Nidd Gorge which had met the most opposition from Harrogate-based politicians and resident groups.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones is so opposed to a road in that location which he says would ruin a natural beauty spot without reducing traffic jams in Harrogate substantially, he is not only urging constituents to say 'no' to question 15 in the survey, he is now taking the unprecedented step of personally leading a ‘sustainable transport’ walk at the site this Saturday morning.
Mr Jones said: “I want to highlight what we could be jeopardising should respondents to the survey fail to support the sustainable transport measures.
"The Nidd Gorge and surrounding countryside are home to five ancient woodlands, 80 species of birds, 30 kinds of reptiles, mammals and amphibians as well as plants, fungi and flowers unique to ancient woodlands.
“It is alarmist to suggest that these species will be wiped out by the new road but I think it is fair to say that the eco-system in this area will be badly harmed and these natural habitats seriously damaged.
"The physical road and its construction will cause irreversible damage and exhaust emissions and litter will be an ongoing threat to the distinctive plants and animals in the area.”
This Saturday morning Mr Jones will lead a ‘sustainable transport walk’ along the route of the Nidderdale Greenway from Bilton Lane to Ripley.
At Ripley, Mr Jones and his team will return to Harrogate on the no 36 bus.
The Tory MP and junior transport minister's views are shared by Coun Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council and, if previous votes are anything to go by, by the overwhelming majority of Harrogate county councillors.
Mr Jones said: “The great thing about the congestion survey though is that we can choose a better way.
"We can show North Yorkshire County Council that we support sustainable transport measures – park and ride, electric vehicles, bus priority, segregated cycle ways and a variety of other schemes.
"We should not pretend that sustainable transport is the easy option. It requires significant investment not only in terms of cash but also in terms of changes to our travel behaviour.
“Reducing congestion, making our air cleaner and making sustainable transport work will be a joint endeavour between local people, businesses, schools and local councils.
"When you consider what will be gained – cleaner air, healthier communities, preserved and enhanced natural habitats – it is one of the most worthwhile joint endeavours our community can undertake.”
The walk will begin at 10am, Saturday 25 May at the Bilton Lane entrance to the Nidderdale Greenway.
Anyone wishing to support sustainable transport and preserve the natural habitats around the Nidd Gorge is welcome to join.
The protest is already being supported with publicity by local groups such as Nidd Gorge Community Action and Bilton Residents Association.