Revealed - 'Sea change' in Harrogate support for green transport

A sunset at beauty spot Nidd Gorge in Harrogate. (Image provided courtesy of Mike Joslin - life long supporter of Nidd Gorge)
A sunset at beauty spot Nidd Gorge in Harrogate. (Image provided courtesy of Mike Joslin - life long supporter of Nidd Gorge)

Harrogate residents and campaign groups are hailing victory in their efforts to stop a possible 'Nidd Gorge relief road'.

And, though fears for the future remain, they say the results of the major public survey show there has now been a 'sea change' in Harrogate people's views on greener transport measures.

In North Yorkshire County Council’s report on the results of its recent public consultation over traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough , under its ‘description of comments’ section, the public’s views were predominantly critical of the idea of relief road from Bilton to Forest Lane via the Nidd Gorge area.

MP says Harrogate 'Nidd Gorge' relief road idea is now 'dead'

In fact, a total of 78 per cent of the more than 15,000 responses disagreed or strongly disagreed with a Nidd Gorge relief road.

Relief roads and traffic congestion: What Harrogate groups said

Keith Wilkinson MBE, honorary secretary of Bilton Conservation Group

"The report recognises that we are now in the 21st century, where 20th century solutions to today’s problems are no longer relevant as we grapple with the dynamics of Climate Change and damaging CO2 emissions.

"On a really positive note however the report is recommending a wide range of sustainable and environmentally-friendly measures to relieve the perceived congestion on our local roads.

"These include behavioural change including incentives to reduce short vehicle trips and single-occupancy journeys, greater use of buses, addressing school transport issues and improved facilities for walking and cycling. Park and Ride is still a feasible option and further research is proposed.

"May we appeal to NYCC after their three failed attempts to breathe life into the Harrogate Inner Relief Road [A59 diversion through Nidd Gorge] – 1986, 1996, 2016 – to finally bury the spectre of this irrelevant road?

"Leader of Harrogate Council, Richard Cooper and Andrew Jones MP are to be commended for taking the initiative to point Harrogate towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future for Harrogate and Knaresborough. "

Jemima Parker, organisational chair of Zero Carbon Harrogate

“It is very encouraging that the majority of the survey respondents recognise the need for sustainable travel solutions for Harrogate and Knaresborough.

"This is consistent with the NYCC climate motion to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2030.

"We are disappointed, however, to see that the officer’s report includes additional road options to the west of Harrogate, which would be inconsistent with achieving the county council's environmental commitment.”

Harrogate congestion survey more results announced

Chris Kitson of Harrogate & Knaresborough Alliance for Less Traffic (HALT) speaking personally

"Whilst I am pleased with the overwhelming rejection of the relief road idea I am cautious about the possible response from North Yorkshire County Council.
"Having briefly looked at their report I don't get a sense that they see this as an opportunity to help Harrogate and Knaresborough become a national leader in sustainable, green ideas for transport and travel.
"Hopefully our local county councillors, Harrogate Borough Council and all our volunteers and supporters can start to steer them towards this vision - which would make our towns better places to live, work and visit - as well as being what is needed for the planet at a time of climate emergency.
"This survey result demonstrates that there has been a sea-change in public opinion lately.
"I think people now recognise that there are more important issues to focus on than getting from A to B two minutes quicker in your car. NYCC now need to deliver the sustainable measures without further delay and without wasting any more of taxpayers money on environmentally destructive proposals.

"A progressive council would have realised that the inner relief road idea, being so close to Nidd Gorge, was a ridiculous proposal at the outset.
"I am still concerned that by recommending to "Not progress with the Harrogate inner relief road at this time" that they still don't get it! It was wrong in the 1980's and the 1990's and its even more wrong today.
"It will always be wrong because of Nidd Gorge and Bilton Fields and it's about time the Nidd Gorge area got the long-term protection it deserves and finally stop this proposal rearing its head every decade.
"Lastly I would like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and supporters who got behind the HALT campaign and helped raise awareness and influence this outcome - it has been very encouraging to see that people power can be very effective in shaping the world we want future generations to inherit, and gives us hope that we can make the rapid changes needed."

Harrogate congestion survey supremo - 'tough decisions' on way​