Twenty years ago, road campaigners won an important battle when they defeated plans to dual the A30/303 along the entirety of its route through the Blackdown Hills AONB.
But new plans by Devon County Council to upgrade a sensitive section of the existing A30 between Honiton and Devonshire Inn suggest that developers are determined to have their way in the end, as local campaigner and guest blogger Clive Potter reports.
To the dismay of local residents and campaigners, what had previously been identified by Highways England as ‘minor improvements’ designed to address local safety concerns and provide a bypass for the village of Monkton, have been translated into a major new road scheme.
The Council and its backer, the Local Enterprise Partnership, have concluded that ‘online’ improvements to the existing route will not be sufficient to achieve the (actually quite marginal) reduced journey times and improved ‘resilience’ that they seek. Instead they want to divert this busy road from its current, well hidden route along a valley bottom, up onto the landscape plateau.
The impact of all three proposed routes on landscape and tranquillity in what is supposed to be a protected landscape setting will be devastating.
And that is not the end of their ambitions. The consultation document refers to the opportunities for ‘incremental staging’ that building the new road will provide. This means further dualling of the A303 along most of its length through the Blackdowns.
A local Action Group has been formed to fight these damaging proposals but it is essential that as many people as possible express their opposition to the scheme by responding to Devon County Council’s consultation exercise.
The Blackdown Hills AONB is Category 5 landscape of national importance that deserves all our support.
To respond to the consultation by the deadline of September 30th (rejecting ALL of the proposed routes), please complete Devon's online questionnaire.
We share Clive's concerns. You cannot protect and enhance an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by building a road through it. What Devon County Council should be considering is how to get unnecessary trips off the road including through long term investment in local public transport. Have your say by 30 September.