Minister finds benefits of Lancs road scheme to outweigh green belt and archaeological concerns

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has approved plans for a new 5km dual carriageway in Lancashire after concluding that the public benefits would outweigh concerns about the proposed scheme’s impact on the green belt and on archaeological remains.

A CGI of the proposed A585 Windy Harbour to Skippool. Image: Highways England
A CGI of the proposed A585 Windy Harbour to Skippool. Image: Highways England

Applicant Highways England has been granted a development consent order for its A585 Windy Harbour to Skippool Improvement Scheme, a bypass project which includes four new junctions and three bridges. Plans for the project, near the town of Poulton-le-Fylde, were submitted in October 2018.

The government roads agency said the proposed scheme is expected to reduce congestion, support economic growth and residential development, and improve the safety of walkers, cyclists and horseriders.

Issuing his decision, the transport secretary said the project met requirements established by the National Policy Statement for National Networks to “underpin the government’s social, economic and environmental policy aspirations” and “provide improved conditions in which people travel”.

Noting that the road was expected to cause damage to the setting of a nearby Grade II listed property, and other potential archaeological remains, the transport secretary said proposed mitigation measures had been “deemed appropriate” by heritage watchdog Historic England.

Those mitigation measures include the digging of trial trenches to identify archaeological remains and subsequent further mitigation if necessary, such as the excavation or recording of identified archaeological features.

The transport secretary also noted that part of the proposed works fall within the green belt but said these were contained within the existing highway boundary and that the harm caused would be minimal. He found there are “very special circumstances” to justify the development that outweigh the potential harm.

Overall, he said “none of the matters weighing against the proposed development are sufficient to outweigh the advantages” and found “clear justification for authorising the development”.

Earlier this month, a challenge to proposed works relating to a road tunnel being planned near Stonehenge were dismissed by a High Court judge.

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