Friends of the Earth CEO, Craig Bennett, speaks to protestors at Rimrose Valley

Our community fight to save the Rimrose Valley

A vibrant community campaign on Merseyside is determined not to let the government build a road through their cherished green space.
  Published:  11 Jun 2019    |      3 minute read

Once used as a domestic tipping site, Rimrose Valley Country Park was reclaimed in the 1990s to create a natural recreation site. It now serves as an important green lung for the community.

The valley is used by children for walking to school or playing football, by families for picnics and by local schools for nature learning. Runners, cyclists and dog owners use the parkland on a daily basis.

It is a wild, green space, full of trees, in a densely populated and industrialised area of South Sefton. It includes two Sites of Special Local Biological Interest.

Walkers enjoying the canal and Rimrose Valley
Walkers enjoying the canal and Rimrose Valley
Credit: Estelle Worthington/Friends of the Earth

Rimrose Valley is a haven for wildlife and is home to a huge array of flora and fauna. It is used as a route to and from schools and workplaces. It links communities and helps create cohesionStuart Bennett, Save Rimrose Valley

Dual carriageway through the Rimrose Valley

Despite all the earlier effort to re-green the valley, in 2017 Highways England (HE) announced that it wanted to build a dual carriageway bypass road right through Rimrose.

The agency says the road is needed to ease congestion on roads between the Port of Liverpool and the motorway network.

Traffic on local roads has increased significantly since 2016, when a new deep-water container terminal was completed. With the port's developed handling capacity, more heavy goods vehicles journeys are expected in the coming years.

The community fights to defend their green space
Save Rimrose Valley protestors
Credit: Save Rimrose Valley

The route through Rimrose Valley was chosen at an estimated cost of £250m.

Save Rimrose Valley

The Save Rimrose Valley campaign was formed in 2017 when the new road was announced.

The campaign team is made up of local people - mums, dads, teachers, and people with a wide range of skills. They all decided to give up their spare time to protect the valley for future generations.

"No consideration has been given to the huge impact this scheme will have on our environment, the wildlife in Rimrose Valley or the public’s physical and mental health," says Stu Bennett from Save Rimrose Valley.

According to Stu, options for shifting freight onto railways were never fully explored or presented to the public.

“More roads deliver more pollution and, on a much wider scale, contribute to climate change," he says.

Local children pinned notes onto trees at Rimrose Valley
Local children pinned notes onto trees at Rimrose Valley
Credit: Save Rimrose Valley

There are about 10 core group active members. The campaign has wide resonance and is built on the support of the wider community. At one community event, Hands Across the Valley, over 800 people turned out.

Save Rimrose Valley also organised an event allowing local schoolchildren to hang notes off a well-loved apple tree showing their wishes for the future of Rimrose Valley.

Don’t make a road in Rimrose Valley because that’s the only place schools can go on a walk and see nature.Wish Tree request from a pupil from a local school

Celebrating Earthmovers

Save Rimrose Valley's efforts to protect their community green space was recognised with an award at Friends of the Earth's Earthmovers ceremony in May 2019.

The ceremony was held at Manchester Groundswell, Friends of the Earth's regional climate action event. More events are coming up near you soon.

Friends of the Earth supports the Rimrose Valley

Save Rimrose Valley's campaign received a boost when Friends of the Earth's Chief Executive visited the site to speak to protestors in March 2019.

Craig Bennett was interviewed by the local media. He wrote to Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, to ask for alternatives to the valley route to be explored.

Craig Bennett chats to Stu from Save Rimrose Valley
Craig Bennett chats to Stu from Save Rimrose Valley
Credit: Estelle Worthington/Friends of the Earth

Sefton Council opposes the new road

The local council in Sefton also opposes the plans. It challenged the road-building plan using a judicial review, accusing HE of failing to consult on a tunnel option.

The council also argued that any new road would have a negative impact on already high levels of air pollution in the area.

The Rimrose Valley is a green space in an industrialised area
The Rimrose Valley is a green space in an industrialised area
Credit: Estelle Worthington/Friends of the Earth

Although the council lost the judicial review in 2018, it vowed to continue its fight against the plans.

The next step will be a further round of consultation with local residents and communities on the preferred route. The Save Rimrose Valley team will be running a campaign encouraging local people to respond, and demand that the road is stopped.

Why we need trees in our lives

At a time of climate breakdown, trees are one of the most important tools we have. They extract carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air, and produce oxygen. They create important habitats for wildlife and allow nature to flourish.

Let's not destroy the beautiful trees we already have.

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