WINCHESTER Green campaigners are pressing the Government to abandon its plans for a £100 million scheme at junction 9 of the M3 at Winchester.

Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and Winchester Action on Climate Change called on Highways England to think again and abandon the scheme.

In a statement they say "it is perverse to spend £100m or more on making our lives worse", arguing the work to alter the interchange will do little to improve congestion or pollution.

The proposal is to rebuild the junction to remove the congestion point of the traffic lights on the roundabout where the M3, A34 and A272 meet.

Highways England is currently holding a public consultation with four more public information events to be held:

Friday July 12, 2-8pm, Community Centre, Fraser Road, Kings Worthy;

Saturday July 13, 10.30am-4.30pm, Community Centre, Fraser Road, Kings Worthy;

Saturday July 20, 10.30am-4.30pm, Tesco Extra, Winnall;

Saturday August 3, 10.30am-4.30pm, Tesco Extra, Winnall.

The campaigners say the scheme will do nothing to tackle the climate emergency with 60 per cent of the city's greenhouse gas emissions coming from traffic.

They point out that even if road transport goes electric, the scheme will still be detrimental. Enabling growth in private car use and road freight will encourage extravagant use of clean energy that will be in short supply. Worse, if the demand is higher than the clean energy supply available, transport will use dirty energy.

Instead they call for

• Developing a network of fast Winchester District bus routes to encourage people to keep their cars off the M3 and leave them at home

• Developing a network of bus feeder services at Southampton Airport Station for onward connections to Winchester and Basingstoke

• Building a railway station at North Whiteley

• Building a district-wide safe cycle network

• Increasing the capacity of the railway line through Winchester, so it can play a greater part in catering for those commuting into Winchester, especially from the Solent area

• Improving frequency and connections on the whole of the south Hampshire rail network

• Electrifying the railway line from Didcot to Birmingham and Nuneaton to encourage the transfer of lorry traffic to low carbon low energy goods train services from Southampton Docks to national distribution points in the Midlands

• Developing a rail-connected goods distribution hub in the north Solent area (Eastleigh or Micheldever?) to divert traffic to proposed rail-based distribution networks.

Initial designs provoked concerns about traffic safety as it envisages northbound traffic leaving the M3 onto the A34 and then having to cut across lanes to leave for the A33 within a few hundred yards.

The consultation will run for eight weeks and finishes on August 27.

The events will give the public more detail about the work taking place, an opportunity to meet the project team and to ask questions.

Junction nine of the M3 connects south Hampshire with London, the Midlands and the North. It is also part of a key freight route.

Roughly 6,000 vehicles an hour use it during peak periods and it currently creates a bottleneck that causes significant delays throughout the day.

Traffic is particularly heavy between the M3 and the A34 with frequent queues on the northbound off-slip of the M3 which are a safety risk during peak periods.

To reduce the queues there is more green time allocated to the traffic lights on the northbound off-slip of the M3 and the A34 link. This amended sequencing, in turn, causes lengthy queues on A272 Spitfire Link and Easton Lane during the morning and evening peak periods