OVER 100 Pucklechurch residents gathered in the village today to protest against controversial plans for a new M4 junction.

Campaigners have been lobbying for Junction 18a for years, with the view that it would ease congestion and provide a valuable link for commuters in South Gloucestershire.

However recent proposals for the junction, which would place it on greenbelt land near the village of Pucklechurch, have been met with anger.

Villagers believe that the plans, which include a major road cutting through the parish, will create "chaos" in their community. 

Pucklechurch resident Chris Davis, 53, told the Gazette: "This will affect us on many levels. Increased noise, pollution and building on the green belt are all a massive concern.

"From my own perspective, my children are currently able to walk to school and to the local park by themselves. If they have to cross a major road then that is going to be no longer possible."

Tim Wallace, 44, who lives in Pucklechurch with his wife and two children, added that the scheme is simply about “making money” and "opening up the town" to housing developers.

He said: “These proposals just don’t make any sense. I suspect that the intention is to simply pave the way for more housing in the area.”

He added:  “Pucklechurch is a great, safe place to bring up a family, but if they decide to build the road here then it will be chaos.”

Pro-Junction 18A campaigners originally called for it to be located near Emersons Green, providing a link to the Bath and Bristol Science Park.

However the two options that have now been put forward by South Gloucestershire Council are much further away.

The first proposal would see a junction built next to Westerleigh Road, with a link road passing close to the North Western area of Pucklechurch.

The second would involve building the junction further up the motorway, near Parkfield Rank.

At the protest against the plans this afternoon, Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall and Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore conducted a question and answer session with the residents.

Both politicians have previously campaigned in favour of the new junction - but with the understanding that it would be built at the Ring Road in Emersons Green.

They are currently against the proposals for the junction to be located near Pucklechurch.

Speaking to the Gazette, Luke Hall said: “I’ve campaigned for a junction 18a for a number of years now – I believe it will help ease pressure of congestion.

“However this surprising proposal that has come through to build near Pucklechurch is completely wrong for the community.

“It runs right through the greenbelt and opens up the potential for more housing near Pucklechurch.

“I will be making my feelings on this very clear to the council, and I will also be saying to the government that we should not be funding this.”

Gail Boyle, Vice-Chairman of Pucklechurch Parish Council, told the Gazette that the council “unanimously object” to the Eastern proposals.

“We are not opposed to the idea of a Junction 18a, but these plans would be a disaster for the village and would negatively impact upon a conservation area,” she said.

Next month, South Gloucestershire Council will be conducting a formal consultation on the two options. 

Work on the study is not due to be completed until 2018, so the proposals are therefore at an early stage and no formal decisions have yet been taken.

Cllr Colin Hunt, cabinet member at South Gloucestershire Council responsible for transport, told the Gazette: “We recognise that creating a new motorway junction is not something that will be popular with everyone, but there is a very real need to ease congestion in this part of South Gloucestershire and provide better access to key employment hubs and residential areas.

“The options for Junction 18a are at a very early stage and the proposals will be subject to a formal consultation period which will start next month and run until October.”