A LOCAL authority which has declared a climate change emergency has been urged to reconsider plans to build a link road after a study revealed such developments will counter efforts to sharply reduce carbon emissions.

A Darlington Borough Council meeting heard while a business case, design work and ecological surveys for Darlington Northern Link Road continues to be developed, transport emissions were increasing every year as other sectors of the economy were achieving significant cuts.

Green Party group leader Councillor Matthew Snedker said a recent Transport for Quality of Life report had found the government’s road building plans for the next three years would top 20 megatonnes of extra emissions, at a time the Climate Change Act bound the country to reduce transport emissions by 167 megatonnes.

Cllr Snedker said: “If we were to switch 80 per cent of the nation’s fleet and recharge them all from renewable energy, this saving would be totally wiped out by the government’s road-building programme.”

He questioned how the Conservative-run council could continue backing building a new route around the north east corner of Darlington.

After declaring the emergency last summer, the council’s economy portfolio holder, Councillor Alan Marshall, stated: “Climate change is everybody’s responsibility, whether you are a large organisation within the town, down to individual residents.

“The council has a duty to respond to that climate emergency by taking necessary actions, with the agreement of council as a whole, and hopefully to the satisfaction of our residents.”

In response to Cllr Snedker, the authority’s leader Councillor Heather Scott said the new road was being planned with residents in mind – to relieve heavy traffic from the Whinfield area.

Supporters of the scheme say the western end of the A66 features significant constraints, such as being single carriageway and having numerous roundabouts, and that vehicles from the north have to travel through residential areas to reach the Tees Valley.

Cllr Scott said traffic on Whinfield Road was unacceptable for residents, so a balance needed to be struck with the environmental concerns.

She said she would examine the transport emissions report and raise its findings with the Tees Valley Transport Group.

Other leading councillors said they believed the link road was important for the borough. Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Anne Marie Curry said: “We as residents of this town do feel that there is a need to have some of the lorries that go through the town taken out of the town by main roads.”

After Labour councillor Nick Wallis questioned why the Northern Link Road plans had fallen behind those for a new A19 Tees crossing, Cllr Scott replied that Darlington had been given considerable support for the regeneration of Bank Top Station and “these things have to go in order”.