On Thursday 8 March the A66 TransPennine upgrade was given the go ahead by the Secretary of State for Transport This scheme, which is rated “Poor Value” by the Department for Transport’s own assessment criteria, will only pay back 90p for every £1 spent on it.

We believe the new dual carriageway sections road will harm the landscape and tranquillity of the North Pennines AONB, damage internationally important peat bogs and significantly increase carbon emissions at the very time Cumbria is working to reach net zero by 2037.

It will bring more day trip traffic into the Lake District, directly conflicting with a 25 strong partnership aim to reduce visitor car journeys and increase sustainable transport options.  And that the road is contrary to the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 as it does not further the purposes of statutory bodies, the Lake District National Park Authority and the North Pennines AONB.

We are calling for safety upgrades to the road, not wholesale dualling of the road.  And challenge the argument that the A66 is “the most dangerous road in the UK”.

Dr Kate Willshaw, Policy Officer at Friends of the Lake District said:

“At a time when so many of us are experiencing the impact of climate change, it is morally wrong to embark on a project that will lock-in greater car use.  What we need is action to rapidly cut emissions and encourage massive behaviour change about car use.

“In addition, Parliament has just passed new legislation which means that bodies such as National Highways must “seek to further” the purposes of national parks and AONBs.  This is much stronger than previous legislation and means that any development that affects national parks and AONBs must actually include measures which don’t just mitigate harm, but actually make the environment of the protected landscapes better. Upgrading the A66 will in fact do the opposite and damage both the Lake District and the North Pennines AONB.

“We are bitterly disappointed by this short-sighted decision by the Secretary of State and we will be considering our next steps.”