Rare species habitat threatened over A12 gas pipeline plans, says council

Essex traffic: A busy stretch of the A12 near Marks Tey is shutting every weekend until Christmas Pi

Work is set to take place on the A12 in Essex (stock photo) - Credit: Archant

Habitats of important and rare species of birds and aquatic mammals are being threatened by plans to reroute a high pressure gas pipe to allow A12 widening, residents have been told.

Wickham Bishops Parish Council say that three options under A12 Witham bypass widening scheme would cause the permanent loss of mature trees and hedgerows and destroy habitats of red kites, otters and many other species of wildlife.

The parish council added it would also have a detrimental effect on the setting of listed buildings and a historic lane.

It added their support to National Highways own preferred, albeit more expensive option, to route the pipe alongside the widened A12, staying on the north side of the Blackwater, rather than diverting through Blue Mills and Ishams Chase which will require a 25 metre-wide strip of land to be cleared, and left cleared, where the pipeline runs.

However the final decision will be made by Cadent Gas Limited.

In a statement the council said: “As part of the A12 Witham Bypass widening work, a gas pipeline needs to be rerouted.

“A last minute consultation has been announced proposing a number of routes for the gas pipeline.

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“Proposed routes 2, 4 and 5... will cross the Blackwater twice, cause the permanent loss of mature trees and hedgerows and destroy habitat of red kites, otters and many other species of wildlife, and have a detrimental effect on the setting of listed buildings and a historic lane.

“There is a much better route which will simply go alongside the widened A12, staying on the north side of the Blackwater, but it is understood this is the more expensive option as it goes through former landfill site. But we can’t let cost simply override the ecological damage that the cheaper routes will cause."

National Highways admit diversion corridors 2, 4 and 5 have the potential for significant effects on additional archaeological remains south of Little Braxted while corridors 2 and 5 also have the potential for significant effects on the site of Machin’s Mill or Blue Mills.

The preferred route involves widening the existing A12 between junctions 19 and 25 to three lanes in each direction (where it is not already) and create a three-lane bypass in each direction at Rivenhall End.

Cadent has been asked to comment.

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