By Mike Sheridan, local democracy reporter

Opposition councillors in Shropshire say a decision to approve Shrewsbury’s controversial North West Relief Road should be scrapped amid claims the planning committee was “misled”.

Councillors Julian Dean and David Vasmer, who both sit on the Northern Planning Committee who approved the scheme, have written to chief executive Andy Begley calling for the decision to approve the road to be set aside.

They claim the council’s planning report minimised a crucial Environment Agency (EA) objection to the scheme to secure approval for the new road.

They say the EAs objections to proceeding with the road were misrepresented to the committee, and the planning officer’s report conflated a request for more information with tacit approval for the plans.

“We are concerned that the position of the EA was misrepresented, both with regard to the development of conditions and with regard to their overall position regarding the decision to recommend the application be granted with conditions,” they wrote, in a joint letter to the chief executive."

The committee report had claimed the EA’s refusal to discuss conditions on the scheme created a deadlock which the council attempted to resolve by commissioning an independent review of its Environmental Statement, known as the Waterman report, to allow the scheme to progress.

“Having regard to the Waterman findings in relation to the contents of the Environmental Statement, it considered this allows the Local Planning Authority to proceed to determination and secure appropriate mitigation to offset the impacts through suitably worded pre-commencement conditions,” the report said.

But the EA said more work was needed to assess the impact of the scheme before its approval, and environmental risks to Shrewsbury’s water supply could not be managed by planning conditions.

“We are not satisfied that the potential impact and deterioration risk to the water environment and public water supply has been adequately assessed,” said EA Planning Specialist Mark Davies.

“Our opinion/advice was, and is, that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and some key parts of the assessment, including around water supply protection, was necessary to inform the planning application and could not reasonably be conditioned. We consider and have consistently advised that sufficient detail should be provided within the EIA, determined at planning stage and in some cases not deferred to a post-determination planning condition. ”

In an earlier statement, Shropshire Council said their plans had addressed all concerns relating to the scheme.