LANCASHIRE COUNTY Council is to press ahead with a £55.6M bypass for Lancaster in defiance of a Government planning inspector's recommendation that the scheme be scrapped, the authority confirmed this week.
The council's transport committee voted in favour of including the 9.7km bypass, which will link the M6 south of Lancaster with the port of Heysham, in its Local Transport Plan which is due to be presented to the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions on 31 July.
Lancashire County Council's principal engineer for local transport Ray Worthington said: 'The scheme is still our first priority. Ninety four per cent of people in the Lancaster district supported it in a recent survey.'
But DETR planning inspector Peter Young last month said that the bypass should be rejected because it would run near to the Lune Estuary, a site of special scientific interest. Young also claimed that even with funding, the road could not be built in the five year LTP period.
The campaign to turn DETR opinion around intensified last week when local MPs Hilton Dawson and Geraldine Smith held a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to press for the bypass.
Dawson, who called Young's report 'bonkers', argued it ignored the strong economic and redevelopment case for the road, said to cut journey times and boost the standing of a 'growing' port. He is also said to have claimed that traffic modelling in the report was flawed as it assumed that traffic between Heysham and Lancaster would have to break speed limits.