THE future's Orange, as far as Huntingdonshire District Council is concerned regarding the new A14 southern bypass - but with a tinge of Brown. The cabinet decided last week to advise the council this afternoon (Wednesday) to back the Orange route - closer to Offords and Hilton, and further from Brampton, Godmanchester and Fenstanton than alternative routes. However, HDC has one exception and will push for the A14 to travel along a short western section of the Brown route, between Buckden and Ellington. The same route - substantially the same as that in the original 2005 consultation that suffered a successful legal challenge by Offords villagers - is expected to be supported by Cambridgeshire Country Council and neighbouring South Cambridgeshire District Council. Local authority support for it - if it is chosen by the Highways Agency as its preferred route for the £639million A14 Ellington-Fen Ditton upgrade - should hugely shorten any public inquiry and shave millions of pounds off the cost. Work on the road will not begin until 2010 at the earliest. It is unlikely to be completed before 2015. HDC's decision will be a blow - though not an unexpected one - to Offord residents, who have campaigned vociferously against what they complain would be visual and noise intrusion from the Orange route. Yet, of more than 1,000 registered electors in the two parishes who feel so strongly on the issue, just 128 signed a protest petition, sources at the council revealed. The petition, calling on HDC to back the Brown route, will be presented to the council at the start of this afternoon's meeting. Councillor Nick Guyatt, the cabinet's environment and transport guru, who has nursed this issue through HDC almost since its inception in the 2001 CHUMMS multi-modal study report, warned colleagues that any major scheme would inevitably have winners and losers. But it was the council's responsibility to back the scheme that generated the greatest economic benefit for the whole district and did least environmental damage. For those whose lives were adversely affected, the council would urge the Highways Agency to mitigate the harm as far as possible. If the Orange-cum-Brown plan is adopted, parts of Brampton, Huntingdon, Godmanchester, Hemingfords, Fenstanton and Fen Drayton will get some relief from the A14, but it will move closer to the Offords and Hilton - though they will still be upwind of it, minimising the noise effects.