Eden District Council agrees formal response to proposed £1bn A66 project
At a special informal meeting of Eden District Council’s executive this week, members approved a response to the National Highways (formerly known as Highways England) consultation on the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project.
The project would involve making the entire route between Penrith and Scotch Corner a dual carriageway and deliver significant improvements to the A66 between J40 of the M6 at Penrith and J53 of the A1(M) at Scotch Corner.
The full details of the proposed A66 upgrade improvements are available online at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/a66-northern-trans-pennine/.
Whilst the Council fully supports the need to upgrade the full route to a dual carriageway, it is also keen to ensure the project is designed and delivered in the best way to meet local needs. In particular, to ensure the project maximises the benefits for local communities and businesses along the route and avoid and mitigate for any potential negative impacts.
The key issues raised in the Councils response include:
- A continuous route running East-West through the District must be provided that is suitable for non-motorised transport (including cycling, walking, horse drawn vehicles). The projected growth in traffic on the dual carriageway will make it even less safe for such users and a safe alternative route is essential.
- Disruption for local communities and the road network during construction works needs to be avoided as far as possible, with clear plans set out on how this will be achieved.
- A high-quality and dedicated service provision is required for HGVs and other traffic along the A66 route, in order to avoid environmental impacts within communities along the route.
- National Highways should comply with the pending legislation set to be introduced by the Environment Bill, and provide a 10% net biodiversity gain as a result of the development.
- The impact on noise and air quality should be fully assessed and understood, with resulting mitigating measures identified and committed to.
- A calculation for greenhouse gas emissions undertaken and appropriate mitigation measures included in the project, such that Eden District Council’s progress to Zero Carbon (as set out in its Declaration of Climate Emergency) will not be adversely affected.
- The impact on the landscape character and quality of the existing environment needs to be carefully managed. A high quality of design within the road corridor itself is needed, in keeping with the high quality of the surrounding environment.
- Work should be undertaken to understand the opportunities for local employees and business to benefit and a strategy put in place to maximise these local benefits. This should involve early provision of training of local people in the skills needed.
- An accommodation strategy should be provided, showing how workers on the project from outside the area will be accommodated without creating negative impacts on the accommodation stock for local people and tourists.
- Key junctions, including Kemplay Bank and M6 Junction 40 must be improved sufficiently to address current and future congestion.
- The use of smarter technology across the A66 should be maximised to bolster resilience.
Cllr Virginia Taylor, Leader of Eden District Council, said, “Safety is the main reason I support the dualling of the A66, but it’s really important that all road users are safe – not just people in motor vehicles.
“The Council’s formal response includes a strong request that a continuous route through Eden is provided for non-motorised traffic, be that cyclists, walkers, wheelchairs and buggies, animal companions or horse-drawn vehicles.
“The consultation is open until November 6 and I encourage everyone to have their say by visiting www.highwaysengland.co.uk/A66-NTP.
Cllr Mary Robinson, Deputy Leader and Economies and Enterprise Portfolio Holder at Eden District Council, added “the Council’s priority is to ensure that the project meets the needs of our communities and businesses, as well as driving economic growth in Eden. Not to do so would fail to future proof opportunities for our businesses and meet the Government’s levelling up promises.”