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West Country Assembly rejects road widening fears

A WEST COUNTRY road dualling scheme was this week expected to be formally recommended to ministers even though consultants rejected it as too environmentally damaging.

Halcrow rejected dualling of the A30 through the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from Ilminster to Honiton in Somerset and Devon in its South West Area Multi Modal Study (SWARMMS) (NCE Instead it recommended upgrading the A358 from Ilmininster to the M5 outside Taunton.

But the A30 scheme - seen as a vital link to boost the economy of the UK's south west tip - has been put back into the SWARMM package by the South West Regional Assembly.

The assembly comprises local authorities, businesses and social groups. It voted to include the scheme at a meeting on 12 July. A formal recommendation to Transport Secretary Alistair Darling was expected to be sent out this week.

Environmental groups predicted this week that the scheme would not be approved because the Regional Assembly had failed to carry out its statutory duty to consider environmental issues under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000.

An Assembly spokesman said that its own report for the region included 300 submissions from 160 organisations and reflected environmental concerns.

The Assembly said this report also took account of the potential impact of the scheme on journey times and accident rates.

'The assembly decided that the economic arguments should be weighted more strongly than Halcrow had done.'

INFOPLUS www. southwest-ra. gov. uk

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