THE Highways Agency (HA) says Herefordshire Council is on its own over plans for Hereford’s western bypass of Hereford and route linking the A49 to the A465.

This week the HA backed away from offering formal support to either route.

Campaigners say this counters any official justification the council claims for pressing ahead with the projects.

The issue arose out of comments made by council leader councillor Tony Johnson in a radio interview relating to the Department of Transport (DoT) setting limits to traffic movement on the A49 and the threat that posed to development at Rotherwas without new roads .

Campaign group Here for Hereford (HFH) seized on what it claims is a discrepancy between Cllr Johnson’s comments and the official line  from the HA, which manages the road network for the DoT.

HFH says answers it has from the HA confirm the agency as not specifically requiring the western bypass to be built, not setting traffic movement limits on the A49 south of the city and  not conducting any transport modelling associated with the proposed A49 to A465 link road.

The Hereford Times put these claims to the HA.

In response, the HA issued a statement saying: "This is a Herefordshire Council proposal and as such completely a matter for them at this time."

On its website, HFH has published the contents of a letter from the HA dated April 7 this year that it says exposes the discrepancies between the council and the agency.

Amongst the answers are:

Traffic volumes have fallen by an average of 3.7% on the A49 south of Hereford between 2009 and 2013

The Highways Agency has not set any ‘traffic movement limits’ along the length of the A49

The A49/A465 link road is a Herefordshire lead proposal. The Highways Agency has not conducted any modelling associated with this.

The Highways Agency is not specifically requiring the Western Relief road to be built and has made no contribution to the funding of the road. At this stage it is not within any of Highways Agency’s current or forward programme plans

Councillor Phillip Price, cabinet member for infrastructure, said the “relief road” proposals form part of the larger vision for the county to unlock development land around the route of the corridor.

“These proposals, which are fundamental to the delivery of the council’s Core Strategy, will be progressed by the council with support coming from relevant organisations at the necessary time,” he said.