Rapid Transport inquiry will have cost £1 million
A PUBLIC inquiry into Bristol's controversial new Bus Rapid Transit network will cost £1 million, it has been revealed.
As the inquiry closed to the public yesterday, Bristol City Council confirmed that £850,000 has already been spent, with a further £150,000-worth of costs likely to be accrued before a report is published.
The money has been spent on a mixture of legal fees, specialist evidence gathering, site visits and administration costs of the eight week enquiry, which is to decide the fate of the bus scheme.
The costs have come out of the budget for the project, which is expected to total £50 million.
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After two months of deliberations, the enquiry drew to a close yesterday afternoon.
On the final day, inspectors heard closing submissions from objectors and promoters of the proposed new BRT route.
Promoters delivered their final speeches indicating why they feel their new speedy bus route from Ashton Vale to the city centre is a necessary addition to Bristol's public transport network.
A long list of objectors also concluded weeks of appearances before the enquiry with written submissions handed into the inspector and his deputy who are due to produce a report in November.
Among the objectors were the Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance, the Bristol Civic Society, Tram company Sustraco, cycling charity Sustrans and the Ramblers Association.
At the heart of the debate over the proposed new bus route is its effect on Bristol's historic Harbourside.
The Bristol Civic Society said the planned changes to the key tourist attraction would do "substantial harm".
It highlighted the concern about the 42 buses per hour which would pass through the dockside.
It said: "The society submits that it establishes that the bus route between the Cumberland Road Tunnel and the M shed museum will cause substantial harm to the setting of the listed structures and will neither enhance nor conserve the local character of this part of the city docks conservation area."
It added that there was no proof that "public gain" would "outweigh the harm that double deck buses would cause to the setting of the M shed museum and to the outdoor exhibits between the Cumberland Road Tunnel and the M shed museum".
In their closing statement promoters of the project rejected the idea that the buses would spoil the contested area for the public.
They also denied claims that there were better alternatives available - notably a tram.
The inquiry inspector, Christopher Millns, will produce a report concluding his findings in Autumn.
If approved, the guided bus route could be operational from 2015.
The Government has pledged £30 million towards the scheme, with the remainder coming from the four councils in the Bristol area.