All of the three MetroBus schemes have motivated strong resistance – from individuals, organisations, politicians and campaign group most notably the Stop BRT2 campaign, Alliance to Rethink MetroBus, The Blue Finger Alliance and the most recent and full of dynamism – the Rising Up collective.
The bus only road was originally designed and located to serve plans for a Park & Ride on the Blue Finger grade 1 soil close to Stapleton Allotments. The first campaign against this began with Rethink M32 Park & Ride. This campaign later joined forces with The Blue Finger Alliance a collective of organisations and individuals working for the protection of high quality soil and promoting Food Growing with a focus on the Blue Finger ( a strip of high quality soil in Bristol & South Glos)
The Blue Finger Alliance campaigned (unsuccessfully) to have the park & ride removed from the Site & Allocations document (SADMP)– which safeguards the land for 10 years for this use. The threat of the Park & Ride is still suspected as despite the Mayor Geporge Ferguson stating that changes to the bridge design would not allow it to serve a Park & ride – the council refuse to take it out of the SADMP plan.
Planning application: The North Fringe to Hengrove Package Metrobus application was highly contentious and resulted in around 400 submitted objections. A high profile campaign was lead by The Blue Finger Alliance and Alliance to Rethink MetroBus (See websites). See documents for examples of written and spoken application examples:
NFHP Planning application Officers Report
MetroBus NFHP Committee meeting statement B Faulkes
MetroBus NFHP Objection BELINDA FAULKES
During the planning Committee meeting many problems with the scheme were highly evident and some scrutinised. However, Councillors were directed to vote for the scheme with extremely strong guidance by the Chair of the Committee- councillor Peter Abraham & Zoe Wilcox (Service Director. Planning and Sustainable Development) They were highly criticised for misleading councillors by stating that that despite the flaws there was no chance or time for any changes, not approving it would jeopardise future government funding opportunities and put “a spanner in the works for better Bristol”. It was a close call with many councillors seeing the obvious flaws. In the end voted 4-6 for. In South Gloucestershire Planning application meeting a few weeks later all but one councillor voted for the scheme.
Post Planning Approval: After approval the Alliance to Rethink MetroBus took the first stages of a judicial review ( judging the process which lead to the decision)– some grounds were highlighted for a case particularly on the Greenbelt and allotments issues, but in the end it was not enough to warrant the costs and risks involved which could have been £ 20,000 +.
Since then various groups and individuals have been lobbying the mayor and other council officials and raising the media profile on related issues.
Individuals from Rethink Metrobus had 2 meetings with Dept. of Transport in London. One meeting was with Baroness Kramer – Transport Secretary & her aides – who stated that they would be open to listening to changes and though short on time change was not inconceivable. They did state however that they would not intervene on local issues. They have not yet approved funding – but are due to at any time soon.
There are serious concerns on whether the Planning conditions for have been met and despite repeated requests campaigners have yet to receive confirmation of this or any Construction plan including risk assessments and precautionary health & safety measures.
A recent FOI request has yet to be answered. NFHP MetroBus FOI request