Fumes could choke A14

THE Highways Agency could be forced into re-thinking part of the new six-lane A14 route due to potential pollution problems. One end of the 11.8-mile road may have to be redesigned, if the agency cannot satisfy a Government inspector on future pollution l

THE Highways Agency could be forced into re-thinking part of the new six-lane A14 route due to potential pollution problems.

One end of the 11.8-mile road may have to be redesigned, if the agency cannot satisfy a Government inspector on future pollution levels in Brampton.

Part of the village adjacent to the A14 is already polluted by oxides of nitrogen, and villagers fear 10 more-or-less parallel lanes of A1 and A14 as part of the new road could simply shift the problem to another part of Brampton.

Although the agency announced its preferred route for the road - the Orange route - last Wednesday, it did not accept a minor variation at the western end, backed by Huntingdonshire District Council and strongly backed by villagers in both Brampton and Buckden.

The process must now await publication of the precise proposed alignment in early 2009 after the agency has appointed a contractor to design and build the whole £640million 22-mile scheme between Ellington and Fen Ditton, north of Cambridge.

If, as expected, both parish councils lodge formal objections to the draft orders - and other parishes may throw their weight behind the protests - there will have to be a public inquiry that could last up to three months, even though Cambridgeshire County Council and both Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire district councils stand broadly behind the chosen route.

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A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: "On balance, we consider that keeping the new route close to the A1 to the west of Brampton is the best solution.

"Our calculations show that changes in noise and air quality on the west side of Brampton would not be significant. The more westerly route would be much more intrusive in the landscape, however, and closer to the Brampton Wood Site of Special Scientific Interest.

"The Air Quality Management Area at Brampton is next to the existing A14 near the racecourse junction. Traffic on that section of road would be reduced with the scheme in place. The new route is too far away from this area to have any effect.

"The A1 west of Brampton is not 'moved' under either scenario. Costs for the two routes west of Brampton are broadly comparable."

"Our studies to date show that the section north of Brampton Hut would not require widening until after 2029," the HA said.

Work could start in three years' time on what started life on All Fools' Day 2003 as a £490million scheme.

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