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Transport or Trees? Decision Time



Transport or Trees?
Dr Irvine LaveryNorman TaylorGerry RiceValerie Smyth



Dr Irvine Lavery is Development Manager of Translink, which operates trains and buses in Northern Ireland.

Q. What impact do you think the super-route would have on Belvoir Forest?

Listen to the audio versionA. I think, in my opinion that the impact would be quite minimal. You may have a few trees chopped down. But it is designed to run though scrub land which we have looked at very carefully, it was between the golf course and the forest proper. The super-route itself would be sunken down. There would be trees put back where necessary to give it a tree shield and I really believe that people walking close by won't even realise there is a super-route down there. I mean we're not talking about motorways or massive flows of traffic, we're talking about one bus every few minutes and these modern buses are very quiet and low pollution. So the impact I feel will be minimal.

Q. What will happen if we do nothing?

Listen to the audio versionA. I think the effect of doing nothing would be at peak hours the whole southern approaches reaching a standstill. The Forestside traffic junction is already above capacity. Over the next few years the traffic will become slower and slower, it will be pushing out more and more pollution. The health aspect of this whole proposal is most important. There are accepted figures of 24,000 people dying prematurely in the UK from exhaust gas emissions. We're trying to balance the environmental needs for the forest with the health needs of thousands of people living down the Ormeau and Saintfield roads. We're causing health problems for many young children, many older people. We have to balance that against the removal of perhaps a couple of trees.

Q. What is your preference for the future?

Listen to the audio versionA. Well, I think the main thing in the southern approaches is we must cause a modal shift from cars into public transport. We've looked at different options. People are very keen on super trams or LRT (Light Rail Transport). But the area is so widespread. Belfast has spread so widely now that we don't have the concentration of people living down traffic corridors that we need for a super tram. The best approach if you like is the super bus, where the southern approaches will be like the trunk of a tree. That'll be the main route for the buses, and then the buses will spread out like the branches of a tree, all over North Down and then come into an area such as Carryduff and have fast transit into the City Centre. What we do need is good efficient park and ride sites around the Carryduff area to encourage people to end to the motor cars. The advantage of getting people into buses instead of private cars is it frees up the road for essential users. Pedestrians walking along the pavements, cyclists, freight lorries to give them fast access into the city centre. Moving people onto public transport is a win win, and I don't see there is any other option at all.


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