Shropshire's Northwest Relief Road will be combined with the Oxon Relief Road to form a single planning application, after councillors voted in favour of amalgamating the projects.

One opposition member criticised the £71million project, calling it a “40-year-old out-of-date solution” and a burden on Shropshire Council. Another said the report before then didn’t estimate the carbon impact of the new road.

But Ruyton and Baschurch councillor Nicholas Bardsley said villages in his ward and others were being used as a “rat run” by heavy vehicles unsuitable for rural roads, and the new road, when built, will divert them.

“A lot of us, in north Shropshire, are suffering now from the damage of not building it,” he said.

Green Party councillor Julian Dean, who represents Porthill, said: “We’ve been talking about it for 40 years and it’s a 40-year-old out-of-date solution.

“We know, from figures the council has produced, that reductions in congestion are minimal.

“The Northwest Relief Road has been described as a ‘flagship’. I would say it is an albatross.”

Councillor Steve Davenport, cabinet member for highways and transport, pointed out that the pre-application consultation period would start early next month, and advised Cllr Dean to make his comments there.

Abbey ward councillor Hannah Fraser accused the report, by Director of Place Mark Barrow, of containing “woolly words” but no estimate of the carbon emissions the new road would lead to.

“Everyone knows new roads create new traffic,” the Liberal Democrat member said.

“It needs to be quantified. We need to know, if it’s going to create more carbon, how you offset it.”

Conservative Cllr Bardsley said: “I represent one of those areas that suffers now because of rat-run traffic.

“We suffer now from the huge environmental damage of traffic that is completely unsuitable for rural lanes.

“I’m not blaming the drivers. They have to get from A to B. But the environmental damage here and now has to be set against the absolutely understandable concerns of those who want to look carefully at the environmental aspects of the new road.

“A lot of us, in north Shropshire, are suffering now from the damage of not building it.”