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DfT grants £34m funding to controversial Bristol Metrobus

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced £34m of funding for part of Bristol’s controversial Metrobus project.

The funding is for the south-west section of the network, creating a new bus service along a 2.5-mile segregated busway from Long Ashton Park and Ride site. The busway follows former rail routes and will feature a new bridge over the Bristol to Portishead rail line.

Work is expected to be completed on this section of the project by April 2016, with the DfT funding £34.5m of the £45m total cost. This section of the project was initially approved by Bristol council last November.

Transport minister Baroness Kramer said: “The Bristol Metrobus will provide a step-change improvement for public transport, not just in the city itself but also surrounding communities. Buses will be able to get around quickly, travelling along dedicated busways and priority lanes around Bristol and into the city centre. The new link will stimulate economic development and link communities with jobs.

“Our £34m investment towards the network shows we are serious about funding the infrastructure needed in this country to drive economic growth.”

The funding announcement comes shortly after the third and final section of the Metrobus project was controversially approved by the council on 28 August this year. Its development control committee six to four in favour of the North Fringe to Hengrove route.

Campaigners against the project, the Alliance to Rethink Metrobus, said the scheme was “railroaded” through, with the council using threats about a loss of money for future transport projects.

The Alliance argues that part of the scheme, a bridge over the M32, would affect the Grade II-listed Stoke Park and prime fertile land at Stapleton Allotments.

After the vote passed a spokesperson for the Alliance told Bristol 24-7: “If Bristol City Council thinks that we are now giving up, they are mistaken. Their refusal to make any changes to the scheme to accommodate local residents and our communities means that we will simply be now campaigning to stop the government giving the funds for this scheme. We will be writing to the local transport minister and asking for an urgent meeting.”

The Department for Transport could not immediately confirm whether it had received a letter or request for a meeting from the Alliance.

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