Row between villages breaks out over new bridge to ease HGV traffic

A new bridge will be built across the River Avon to take lorries off a tight stretch of road in Saltford - but locals in a neighbouring village are not happy. Wessex Water said the new structure was needed to improve access to the water recycling centre ahead of its planned expansion to meet future demand. Currently HGVs have to negotiate pinch points and height restrictions on High Street and Mead Lane, a route that is prone to flooding.

: Much-loved community pub shuts as staff member tests positive for Covid After discounting numerous other options the utility company submitted plans for a new 400-metre access road to the A431 at Bitton and a new single span bridge for use by its vehicles and walkers to cross the river. Bitton Parish Council accused Bath and North East Somerset Council - which later approved the application - of "riding roughshod over our residents" who it said would "bear the brunt of this shocking proposal".

It branded the increase in traffic a "recipe for disaster", adding in its objection: "If this proposal goes ahead the green credentials of the area will be lost forever." Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore said he would oppose the scheme unless Bitton and Swineford residents got robust flood mitigation measures and comprehensive action to address the impact on traffic levels and road safety. Public comments were equally damning, with Cassie Perryman, one of 89 objectors, saying: "It seems insane to send heavy plant traffic through a small village and past a primary school when there is no benefit to the village itself and traffic is already problematic."

Martine Kinsman said the scheme would be "disastrous" for Bitton, which already suffers from traffic "thundering" through the village. But views were different across the water, with 75 letters of support and Saltford Parish Council welcoming steps to reduce congestion on the A4 and "spread the load on local roads more evenly". The comments were backed by North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, while ward councillor Alastair Singleton said the scheme offered the "optimal solution for carrying out the necessary expansion in an environmentally sensitive way".

Approving the application, B&NES Council planning officers said the proposal would see traffic redistributed across the local network. They said a quarter of vehicles will continue to use the existing access, Norman Road will see a 20 per cent reduction in traffic and the impact on the A431 and A4174 will be negligible. "The proposal will directly provide wider benefits to the community by improving access to the public right of way," the officers said.

"The new route will also help to reduce heavy vehicular traffic to the site via Saltford and Mead Lane which has access issues.

"The proposed scheme also provides a number of environmental enhancements including utilising the floodplain compensation area that will be required to offset the loss of floodplain."