Study backs site near Emersons Green for a new M4 Junction 18a

The findings of a study show that the preferred option for an M4 Junction 18a and link road is near Emersons Green.

Papers published today for South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet meeting on 12th March reveal the so-called Western Option is seen as better than the alternative location that the council consulted on – a junction near the overbridge on the B4465 Westerleigh Road at Pucklechurch.

Two link road options for the eastern proposal were suggested – Option A aligned away from Pucklechurch and Option B closer to the village. The link road would then continue between Siston and Shortwood to join up with the A4174 ring road.

Although the Western Option and Eastern Option A are both regarded as having strong business cases, the report to the Cabinet rules out Option B, saying it would not meet the future traffic need as it would only have been built as a single carriageway. It would also have had a significant adverse impact on heritage and the surrounding population.

Cabinet are being recommended to confirm to Highways England and the Department for Transport the strategic need for at Junction 18a and recommend that Highways England prioritise further scheme development, with the Western Option offering greater potential to facilitate more jobs and having fewer environmental challenges than putting the junction further east.

The Western Option junction would be constructed to the north of the existing M4, resulting in the need to realign the motorway, due to the presence of Sainsbury’s distribution centre and the Lyde Green development. The existing Folly Brook, Bristol  & Bath Science Park and Lyde Green to Hicks Gate A4174 junctions would be improved.

The papers show that the Western Option costs have decreased by £18m to £428m and the Eastern Option A costs have dropped by £31m to £378m from those stated at the time of the consultation.

Councillor Bob Symons & Gail Boyle

During last year’s public consultation from 21st August to 16th October, around total 800 people attended public exhibitions and 1,275 questionnaire responses were received, together with over 300 letters. Analysis of the completed questionnaires showed that 51% supported the Western Option and 17% supported the Eastern Option. In addition, 26% indicated that they did not support either option, and 6% indicated that they did not have a preference on which junction should be taken forward.

Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore has been campaigning for a new Junction 18a since before being elected in 2010 and secured Government funding in 2016 to pay for the feasibility study.

But he was firmly against the Eastern Option at Pucklechurch which received significant opposition, highlighted by a 2,100-name petition against it collected by him and neighbouring MP Luke Hall.

Today Mr Skidmore said: “I am delighted that our campaigning has paid off and that the Western Option at Emersons Green is being recommended. This will do so much to relieve traffic congestion and boost jobs locally.

“The Eastern Option at Pucklechurch was always a terrible idea and I’m pleased that it is being dismissed following our petition. Having fought for a new junction and secured the Government funding for this study, I am keen to see Highways England take this project forward and see this new junction built without delay to benefit Kingswood.”

Subject to funding and consent, the junction and link road could be built from 2025 onwards.

Today the chair and vice-chair of Pucklechurch Parish Council, Bob Symons and Gail Boyle, welcomed the recommendation and said that galvanising so many people to campaign against the Eastern Option had made a difference. They said they were not out of the woods yet though as Option A is still being seen as viable.