Warcop and Musgrave Parish Councils have recently met with the design team from Highways England and there has also been a Microsoft Teams Community Liaison Group meeting. This group had representatives from Appleby, Brough, Warcop, Musgrave as well as local councillors. Local residents should also have received a leaflet updating them on the latest plans for the upgrade to our stretch of the A66 between Appleby and Brough. (Apparently there is a similar leaflet for Kirkby Thore.)
At the first meeting, we were presented with x 10 detailed drawings of the route with junctions and the alignment. This was essentially HE’s preferred route. They also showed us some draft plans where the road at Warcop makes use of the existing carriageway and only one new carriageway is built, to keep the road further from properties. A new local road would be built behind the tank park on AONB and MOD land. Another road at the eastern end would be built on AONB land to create a local link onto Brough main street.
It is hard to describe much of this without detailed maps but the main points of our campaign are as follows:
1. A completely northern route should be considered and HE should draw up proper detailed plans to assess the advantages and any issues.
2. The junction at Sandford has now been moved back to the road end but does now have east and west connectivity. There are 4 storage ponds and the new carriageway goes unacceptably close to Dyke Nook Cottage and other properties. An alternative would be for the new carriageway from Café 66 to go to the north of the existing road, not south. (This is not AONB land.)
3. At Warcop, there are two options: the first has the road elevated thus increasing noise, air and visual pollution. The second is at the current ground level with a new bridge over the new dual carriageway just next to the current army P junction. This would lead onto the range and the new local road.
4. At Flitholme and Langrigg, we questioned why there needed to be a new access road from Flitholme to Langrigg. One idea was to build a new link road from Flitholme to the Warcop Musgrave road B6259 to avoid this. At Langrigg the owners of Low Broomrigg Cottage will be surrounded by two new access roads with increased traffic plus a four-lane highway closer to their and others’ properties.. We couldn’t see why the two existing lanes could not go under the new road and meet the old A66 as a T-junction and then residents can turn left and join the new road at Warcop or turn right and join at Brough via a slip road off the old A66.
5. At Brough, HE say if they can’t build the new access road to Brough Main Street, they will have to build the new dual carriageway to the south west of Brough, demolishing one house and connecting at the Musgrave Lane bridge. This also seems like an extravagant solution at further expense.
6. The two parish councils were told we would be sent electronic copies of their plans as well as paper copies. If we can share them on this website, we will.
7. We intend to call a public meeting at Warcop Parish Hall some time in July for local residents to express their thoughts and feelings about the current proposals. We will invite Highways England, Natural England, local councillors, our MP, the media and any other relevant people. We hope that as many local residents as possible will attend (subject to the Covid regulations in force at the time.)
8. Highways England say there will be a statutory public consultation in the autumn, possibly September.
While there are signs of some movement from HE, they say that our proposed northern route would not receive approval from statutory bodies such as Natural England or the Secretary of State for Transport. The test is that only in “exceptional circumstances” would a road be allowed to be built over AONB land. Highways England and Natural England seem to suggest it is preferable to worsen the air, noise and visual pollution for a whole community, in order to protect an area of dubious natural “beauty” which is essentially barren and unattractive. We continue to challenge that point of view and are quite prepared to seek a legal challenge and perhaps go to a future public inquiry, if necessary.
We recognise that there a mixed views and opinions on this issue but in our recent survey of Musgrave and Warcop residents, 94% of respondents preferred a northern route.
Chair, Warcop Parish Council