TRAFFIC levels across the borough's highway network following the opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge will be presented to Government as part of the Western Link business case.

Fears continue to mount over congestion in the town increasing as a result of motorists cutting through Warrington to avoid tolls on the new bridge, which opened on Saturday.

And there are growing concerns that vehicles will use the Western Link bypass in the future to duck the charges, if it is built.

On Monday morning, BBC Radio Merseyside made its way to Bridge Foot to see the town centre traffic levels during the first rush hour since the Mersey Gateway Bridge opened.

Last month, transport chiefs recommended that the 'red' Western Link route is the best option to tackle the town's congestion nightmare.

The proposed highway, which is planned to cost around £195 million, would link the A56 Chester Road with the A57 Sankey Way in Great Sankey.

If it is approved by the council's executive board on November 13, the business case will be presented to the Department for Transport in December.

The council said it will continue to monitor traffic volume from 'set positions' in the town as it has been doing – but no extra measures will be put in place.

A spokesman confirmed the authority 'will be looking to see if there is any change in traffic' following the opening of the bridge, with 'up to date data' to be submitted to the Department for Transport as part of the business case.

If the bid is successful, it is expected that construction could begin on the road in the early 2020s.

Warrington Nature Conservation Forum has submitted pages of comments on behalf of its 500 members for the local plan preferred development option and Western Link consultations.

Members are concerned by the threat that 24,000 houses pose to its 69 wildlife sites and claimed that 'there is no sustainable natural environmental vision' in the local plan.

Ornithologist Brian Martin is calling for the inclusion of wildlife maps as 'overlays' in the plan.

He said: "Overlays would help illustrate how the proposed local plan relates to the existing 69 wildlife sites, Mersey Forest's award-winning green infrastructure plan, Environmental Agency's flood plain and Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust area of interest in the upper Mersey estuary.

"Without these overlays it is very hard to make sense of many parts of the plan and see if Warrington Borough Council is working with or against these wildlife groups."

A council spokesman said: "We would like to thank all the Warrington residents who engaged with the consultation on the local plan.

"We will take all views on board before we issue a draft of the plan in 2018 and will consult once again with interested parties."