People are urged to have their say on the £1 billion transformation of the A66 as a six-week public consultation was launched by a Government minister today.
The project is being heralded as the biggest investment to the North’s road network in a generation and will see the entire road from Penrith to Scotch Corner dualled.
Baroness Vere, Minister for Roads, Buses and Places, launched the consultation today at the site of the former Llama Karma Kafe, where she was joined by Penrith and the Border MP Neil Hudson, local councillors and business leaders.
Baroness Vere said: “Can I absolutely agree that we will keep everybody happy? No. Thats just not going to happen.
“But what we can do is keep as many people happy as possible but also be really open minded about the ideas that they bring forward.”
While welcoming the dualling, parish councillors from Warcop and Musgrave are concerned the four-lane highway will be brought closer to communities and proposed an alternative that goes north of the existing road, through the North Pennine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“Environmental concerns are top of mind at the moment,” added Baroness Vere.
“It’s a really really key thing. We cannot bulldoze through AONBs if there are alternatives and that is actually what the law says.”
This was contested by Dr Hudson who said: “ This six-week formal consultation is a big window of opportunity for residents in areas such as Kirkby Thore, Warcop, Sanford et cetera to get involved with the consultation.”
“Now is the time to put forward your thoughts, positive and negative.”
“The reason I was so eager to come today was to talk to the transport minister and raise some of those concerns.
“There are significant concerns about the preferred route above Warcop and actually I think the logical argument of pushing the route a little bit further north could solve the solution.”
Houses may need to be bought and demolished.
Baroness Vere said: “The point about Compulsory Purchase Orders is that you recognise that if you’re building a national infrastructure project, sometimes people do need to give up their homes.
“The key thing is that they get a fair price for their homes and they are treated with respect and dignity.”
People can express their views on the road design until November 6, after which National Highways will produce a development consent order — the equivalent of a planning application for major works.
To learn more about the project and share opinions, people are urged to visit highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a66-northern-trans-pennine-design-consultation
Public meetings will be held:
- Sunday September 26 – Llama Karma Kafe, Brougham, 2pm-6pm
- Monday September 27 – Haydock Centre, Penrith, 3pm-8pm
- Tuesday September 28 – Haydock Centre, Penrith, 10am-4pm
- Wednesday September 29 – Haydock Centre, Penrith, 8am-2pm
- Thursday September 30 – Llama Karma Kafe, Brougham, 2pm-6pm
- Friday October 1 – Kirkby Thore Memorial Hall, Kirkby Thore, Midday-8pm
- Saturday October 2 – Kirkby Thore Memorial Hall, Kirkby Thore, 9am-4pm
- Monday October 4 – Warcop Parish Hall, Warcop, 3pm-8pm
- Tuesday October 5 – Warcop Parish Hall, Warcop, 10am-4pm
- Wednesday October 6 – Warcop Parish Hall, Warcop, 8am-2pm
- Saturday October 9 – Appleby Hub, Appleby, 3pm-8pm
- Sunday October 10 – Appleby Hub, Appleby, 10am-4pm
- Monday October 11 – Appleby Hub, Appleby, 8am-2pm
- Wednesday October 13 – Kirkby Stephen Sports and Social Club, Kirkby Stephen, 3pm-8pm
- Thursday October 14 – Kirkby Stephen Sports and Social Club, Kirkby Stephen, 10am-4pm