10th November 2021

Friends of the Lake District responded to the National Highways consultation on the upgrade of the A66. We raised concerns over the impact of the road on the landscape around Kirkby Thore, and in the setting of the North Pennines AONB, around loss of and damage to wildlife, and we also raised concerns about the huge amount of carbon emissions that the road will incur both in construction and use.

You can read our response here.

15th October 2021

The A66 Upgrade East of Penrith damages the North Pennines AONB, harms wildlife and flouts the Government’s carbon budget

National Highways (formerly Highways England) are consulting on building a new dual carriageway road along the boundary of the North Pennines AONB through some of the county’s most beautiful landscapes.  Friends of the Lake District is concerned that the proposals to make the road “safer” are actually an excuse to make the entire road a dual carriageway, encouraging the use of this unique landscape as a rat-run for HGVs to cross the country.  The landscape damage, loss of wildlife, severance of hedgerows and destruction of farmland that this road proposal will cause is of huge concern to us as a landscape charity covering the whole county of Cumbria.  We have particular issues with the section of the road which will drive through the landscape north and east of Kirkby Thore. This increases the length of the road significantly, impacting on wildlife habitats, tranquillity and views into and out of the AONB.

Of great concern are figures from the National Highways themselves which demonstrate that the road will increase carbon emissions over the 60 year appraisal period by 3,308,479 extra tonnes of carbon (the fourth biggest emitting scheme in the Government’s roads programme). This is just the total for the additional traffic caused by the scheme, and does not include the carbon emissions caused by the construction of the road (materials, land loss, trees felled etc).  Upgrading this road will go a long way towards busting the UK’s carbon budget making it harder to meet the Government’s legally mandated carbon budgets, including reducing emissions by 78% by 2035 (sixth carbon budget), and 68% by 2030 (Paris Agreement).

Throughout the route evaluation process, Friends of the Lake District has been asking for National Highways to look at upgrading junctions and building underpasses for farm traffic to increase safety on the A66, rather than wholesale dualling it.  We are aware of the road’s poor record on safety, but know that these issues could be addressed through junction improvements, changes to alignment and lower speed limits.  However, National Highways have not even looked at this option in their appraisal of the route, solely fixating on dualling the whole road. On this basis we do not consider that the proposal has actually adequately assessed all the options which is a legal requirement of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations and we will be pushing for more information on why safety upgrades without dualling were never considered.

You can see and respond to the proposals here https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/a66-northern-trans-pennine/

Consultation closes on 4th November 2021.