Third Severn Crossing would be good for Gloucestershire

Author
Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
25th October 2019

You may remember that just a couple of years ago, Gloucestershire County Council embarked on the Vision 2050 project.

It was prompted by the sudden threat of the Cotswolds wanting to leave Gloucestershire and join forces with Oxfordshire.

Various starters for ten in this debate on where we should be heading as a county over the next 30 years were aired.

Most were non-starters in my view. But one of the initial ideas was attractive to me.

That was the idea of a third crossing on the River Severn linking Sharpness and Lydney in the Forest of Dean.

At the time, I was told a new bridge linking Stroud and the Five Valleys with the Forest of Dean would be just far too expensive and to forget it.

But that was before a new Severn Vale Board was established following the initial 2050 work that now puts a different complexion on the idea.

And to add strength to the crossing idea is the fact that it is just the sort of innovative infrastructure project that is already exciting the new Great Western Powerhouse.

This is a grouping of local authorities in the West of England Region (including Bristol and Bath) and the Cardiff Capital Region (including Cardiff and Newport).

It is determined that this region is not left behind by government - as often seems to be the case when we constantly hear about money being pumped into the Northern Powerhouse projects.

So, there is renewed enthusiasm for a new crossing - a rail bridge with pedestrian and cycle access.

It would create new homes on the Sharpness and Lydney sides, which would help defray some of the building costs.

I am not unrealistic. I know they will be heavy.

But Councillor Patrick Molyneux from the Forest who is a senior county councillor told me that he had talked to Mabey Bridge, the bridge builders at Lydney, who thought a box girder bridge carrying a rail line could be built.

Stroud’s leader, Councillor Doina Cornell is also enthusiastic.

In Gloucestershire, we need to be far bolder about our transport infrastructure and linkages.

And a third crossing is a project we should consider very carefully.

Gloucestershire needs all the help it can get to develop our economy and act as a magnet place for our young people to stay and put down roots.

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