How we did it ... Road scheme that won green groups' backing

Project Realignment of the A30 in Cornwall to improve safety and reduce the impact on a protected wildlife site.

Background This section of the A30 had a poor safety record and congestion problems and cut through the Goss Moor national nature reserve, damaging the local wildlife and environment.

Who Is Behind It? The Highways Agency, Natural England, Cornwall County Council.

Project aims To reduce traffic congestion and road accidents, improve economic prospects and reduce the environmental impact on Goss Moor.

Skills Involved Community consultation, partnership working and strategic thinking.

Unusually for a major road improvement scheme, the realignment of the A30 away from Goss Moor in Cornwall attracted few objections from environmental groups. In fact, most of them supported the project, the first of its kind in the UK to move a trunk road out of a European special area of conservation.

The realignment involved an 11km dual carriageway replacing a single carriageway that carried traffic straight through Goss Moor. The former road featured a low railway bridge that was often struck by high vehicles, causing delays and necessitating road closures.

Natural England South West regional director Janette Ward says the £93 million project has made a major difference to conservation prospects. "This scheme will greatly improve our ability to manage one of the largest wetland complexes in south-west England and help Goss Moor achieve its wildlife and recreational potential," she predicts.

Although Friends of the Earth (FOE) objected to creating a dual carriageway, it acknowledges the environmental benefits of its relocation. FOE admits that the approach taken is far better than a previous proposal that involved converting the existing road through the moor into a dual carriageway on its original line.

Initial planning began in the 1980s but came to a halt under the previous government. The scheme was resurrected in 2001 and public consultation took place in 2002. Ninety-six per cent of respondents supported a dual carriageway and 91 per cent supported the proposed route. The road was officially opened in July and follows the edge of the moor.

As one of Cornwall's biggest civil engineering projects, the A30 Bodmin-Indian Queens dual carriageway is designed to cut traffic congestion on what was one of the region's most notable bottlenecks, as well as improving the county's economic prospects and benefiting the environment around Goss Moor.

The old A30 carried 24,000 vehicles a day and 30,000 on summer weekdays. The bypass is expected to remove 80 to 90 per cent of this traffic from the old road, which had a poor safety record and incurred long delays. It will be converted into a bridleway, cycle path and footpath that will form part of an 11km circular multi-use trail around the moor. This scheme is scheduled for completion next spring.

The scheme has further sustainability credentials. It used 700,000 tonnes of waste material from Cornwall's china clay industry in its construction. This reduced the need for quarrying and cut the lorry journeys needed to transport materials, reducing noise, pollution and traffic.

Transport minister Tom Harris describes the project as a "textbook example" of the Highways Agency working with Natural England, local businesses, communities and contractors to produce a road that could improve the quality of life of many.

Cornwall County Council executive member for strategic planning and transport Matt McTaggart says: "The new road will bring economic benefits for businesses in west Cornwall owing to improvements in journey time and road safety to highway users. The personal, social and financial toll of accidents over the years has been huge. We can now look forward to a future where accidents are much less frequent."

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