SOUTH WEST business groups this week challenged the findings of a government study that rejected widening a key road into Devon and Cornwall on environmental grounds.
Bodies including the Devon and Cornwall Business Council and the CBI in the South West are arguing against consultant Halcrow's decision not to recommend widening the A30 from Ilminster to Honiton through the Blackdown Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.
Halcrow's South West Area Multi Modal Study (SWARMMS) found that road widening in such an environmentally sensitive area was not justified (NCE 16 May). It recommends widening the A358 up to Taunton and connecting it with the M5 outside Taunton by building a new junction on the motorway.
Further work is needed to evaluate whether the junction on the M5 is feasible.
The South West Regional Assembly (SWRA), which represents all local authorities, business and social groups in the South West, was this week taking evidence on widening the A30 from business groups claiming that the scheme is vital for the economic regeneration of Devon and Cornwall.
Lobbyists are hoping that they can convince the SWRA to overrule SWARMMS and include widening of the A30 when it makes its recommendation on the study to the Secretary of State on 12 July.
Continued opposition to widening the A30 was expected from environmental groups such as Transport 2000, Friends of the Earth and the Council for the Protection of Rural England.