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SHOREHAM & THE THREAT OF THE M25
A Talk by SHEILA WILSON

 

 

Why was the impact of the M25 on Shoreham so great for the residents in the Darent Valley? Immediately two things spring to mind - the noise (which rarely ends) and the devastating effect on the landscape. Three ancient woodlands were penetrated along the route with eight miles of tar macadam, from Swanley to Sevenoaks (Chevening).

In a well researched and clearly presented talk to the Historical Society on 12 June 2009 Sheila Wilson gave a brief history of how the orbital route around London developed and described how people felt and what they proposed to do about it when the 'Published Route' was announced.

Protest groups for and against the M25 formed themselves quite quickly, even before the Public Inquiry, which ran for six months at Swanley and held up the building of the motorway for eighteen months.

Initially, the Ministry of Transport presented three routes, but the two alternative routes to the Published Route (or Preferred Route) were never really viable - one traversing through the valley floor.

The Shoreham Society obtained professional advice to determine a route, which would not destroy the landscape and woodlands in an area of outstanding natural beauty. But this transpired to be far too expensive (with underground tunnels) for the Ministry to consider. Another suggestion, known as the DANDAG case (Darenth and North Downs Action Group), was to join up the M26 and M20 at Wrotham and not build a motorway at all. This latter suggestion was in the original outer orbital plan, involving only eight minutes longer driving time.

So, even though the Shoreham Society took the case to the High Court, the appeal was rejected on the grounds that the effects of the Otford Road proposals on the A225 were overstated. Traffic on the A225 was one of the main reasons given by the Department of Transport for building the Published Route.

Eventually, even though at first he thought that the building of the road could be described as a national disaster and said so, the Inspector ruled for the Preferred route from Swanley to Sevenoaks, pointing out at the end of the Public Inquiry that the protestors had gained much amelioration. This resulted in the Department lowering the motorway at Shepherds Barn by four metres and also including higher sides to the road, with much tree planting.

The talk was followed by an evocative presentation of photographs, many of them loaned by those who had been involved in the protests, and backed by the song 'The Road to Hell' written in a traffic jam on the M25 in 1989 by Chris Rea. It was clear that it had brought back many memories to residents involved at the time, and it is intended to record some of the remembered anecdotes.

Shoreham And District
Historical Society
Affiliated to
The Shoreham Society
The Kent History Federation and
The Kent Archaeological Society

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Last Updated

November 17, 2014

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Shoreham And District Historical Society