Court threat over A120 route row

CAMPAIGNERS fighting a new route proposed for the A120 last night threatened legal action against the Highways Agency if it went ahead with the scheme.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting a new route proposed for the A120 last night threatened legal action against the Highways Agency if it went ahead with the scheme.

The Highways Agency plans to dual the A120 between Braintree and the A12 as part of multi-million pound improvement plans for the key Essex traffic artery.

The current favoured route is for a proposed southern route (PSR), which would see a new road cut from Galleys roundabout in Braintree, skirting the villages of Tye Green, Cressing and Silver End, and then join the A12 at Feering.

But the Cressing A120 Action Group yesterday claimed the public who will be affected by the proposed route had not been properly consulted with by the Highways Agency.

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It also warned that, whilst not a desirable option, it would consider taking legal action against the agency if it went ahead with the PSR.

The Highways Agency last night defended the way the consultation process was conducted claiming it had complied with all relevant guidelines and had reached thousands of residents across mid Essex.

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Bob Barrett, spokesman for the group, said: “If we don't get our own way then there would be every chance we would go down the court route.

“It would cost us tens of thousands of pounds. We don't want to get to that stage.”

He said the group's key complaints raised about the public consultation concerned publicity.

Mr Barrett claimed only eight per cent of the Cressing parish residents received the Highways Agency's brochure about the PSR, that no exhibition event was held in Cressing despite the fact such roadshows were held in less affected areas in mid Essex, that only one of the three route options was consulted on and that a 270-page document of residents' objections had not been replied to within the 15-day guideline.

He also claimed the PSR scheme would take up more land than the other route options considered initially.

But a spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said the PSR would take up less green belt land than any of the other options initially considered and that the PSR was the only option consulted on with the public, between February and June last year, because that was the route under consultation.

She said: “We explained that the other two options were carefully considered but their environmental and economic benefits were not as strong as the PSR.

“The reason for the consultation held was to get people's views and feedback on it.”

She said the consultation had been carried out as laid down by Government guidelines and that the leaflets were sent out to residents in Cressing and thousands of other addresses in the Braintree area.

She added that additional leaflets had been supplied to Cressing Parish Council and that a dedicated website had been set up to help even more members of the public let their views be known.

In terms of the locations of exhibition events, the spokeswoman confirmed one was not held in Cressing but did state that a public meeting which attracted about 100 people was held in the village during the consultation period.

In relation to the objection document, the 270-page tome was received by the Highways Agency but the spokeswoman said that because it was received as part of the consultation process it did not have to be responded to.

A decision as to what scheme will be eventually been drawn up and sent to the Department of Transport has yet to be made.

The Highways Agency spokeswoman said: “This is just the first stage in taking this whole project forward.

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