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Legal challenge threatens A66 improvement scheme

Campaign group says £1.5bn project to dual key freight route offers “poor value for money” and will harm wildlife.

Transport Action Network (TAN) has launched a legal challenge to the granting of a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine road scheme. The campaign group believes that the Secretary of State’s decision was flawed.

Chris Todd, TAN’s founder and director, said: “The £1.5 billion A66 Northern Trans-Pennine represents very poor value for money and will cause great harm to important landscapes and wildlife.

“At a time when we are experiencing more flooding due to climate change, it will drive up carbon emissions by 2.7 million tonnes. By encouraging more HGVs it will also make the existing parts of the A66 that are already dualled more dangerous.

“We believe the Secretary of State has not considered these issues properly, gambling away £1.5bn of taxpayers’ money in the process. National Highways should instead be implementing cheaper and quicker safety measures on this road, for a fraction of the cost and without harming the environment or taking us backwards on climate.”

The route carries high levels of freight, with 25% of the traffic being HGVs, more than twice the national average for a road of this nature.

The existing route, between the M6 at Penrith and the A1(M) at Scotch Corner, is currently intermittently dualled with approximately 18km of single carriageway, within six separate sections.

The A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project comprises upgrades to the existing single carriageway sections of the road to dual carriageway as well as junction improvements and minor improvements to the existing dual carriageway sections.

The Road Haulage Association said it remains optimistic this vital piece of infrastructure will proceed as planned.

RHA Policy lead for Infrastructure, James Barwise said: "Households, businesses, and the public sector rely heavily on companies across our industry, and we want to keep business and the UK supply-chain moving and performing at the highest possible levels.

"We previously welcomed investment in the scheme as the A66 is the key strategic road link between the M6 and the A1 for businesses in Cumbria and North Yorkshire. We remain optimistic that this vital piece of infrastructure will proceed as planned. HGVs account for a quarter of all traffic on this stretch of the A66 and delays to journeys can have a negative effect on businesses, including lost working time and missed shipment slots.

"The investment in the A66 is an important vote of confidence in our road network and in the road haulage sector. We'll continue to liaise with National Highways and the Planning Inspectorate in the weeks and months ahead to be kept fully up to date with the situation."

National Highways said it was unclear what impact TAN’s legal challenge might have should it be successful, the BBC reported.

Project director Stewart Jones said: "The A66 is a key route in the north of England and helps connect Cumbria with Durham. The route currently suffers from heavy congestion and has a poor collision record.

"We believe our proposals will provide smoother and safer journeys for thousands of commuters, hauliers and drivers who use this vitally important route every day, while also delivering an economic boost to the North.”

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  • Supply Chain