New A120 'would ruin countryside'
ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have declared war on a new £220million road, branding it "an expensive race track" which will ruin the Essex countryside.The Green Party voiced its anger yesterday as plans for the A120 dual carriageway between Braintree and Marks Tey were officially put out to public consultation.
ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have declared war on a new £220million road, branding it "an expensive race track" which will ruin the Essex countryside.
The Green Party voiced its anger yesterday as plans for the A120 dual carriageway between Braintree and Marks Tey were officially put out to public consultation.
The Highways Agency proposals were immediately greeted with fierce criticism from people concerned about the environmental impact – while some traffic-choked villages on the current A120 welcomed the scheme.
The project would continue to improve links between the north-east of the county and Stansted Airport.
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The Government hopes the new dual carriageway will reduce congestion and delays while mitigating the impact of traffic on communities.
Of three options, the preferred route of the new dual carriageway would run close to the villages of Tye Green, Cressing, Silver End and Feering, with a completion date of 2013. It would link to a widened A12 near Feering.
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A second option takes the new route close to the existing A120, while a third runs further to the north of Bradwell and Coggeshall.
The Government hopes the eventual route will reduce traffic in Bradwell, Little Tey and Marks Tey, improve journey times and boost the local economy.
But environmentalists have slammed the multi-million pound changes.
James Abbot, a Green Party member of Braintree District Council, yesterday condemned the planned route as "an expensive race track", and said it will cause "immense damage to the countryside".
"We are preparing to embark on another long-running campaign to save the countryside in this area.
"If the agency think they will get their way easily they are much mistaken. This is not a 'road good, no road bad' situation. There is wide agreement that the existing A120 needs improvement, the question is what is the best way of tackling the issue. The agency proposals are just about the worst possible option."
There was also a wave of fury from councillors and members of the public at the exhibition yesterday.
Dorothy Mason, 77, a retired civil servant from Cressing, said: "I'm normally a very quiet person but I'm angry about this. We will face noise, pollution and increased traffic night and day.
"Widening the existing A120 would be the cheapest way to improve things."
However, Chris Shuker, Highways Agency project leader, defended the blueprints.
"The road will be environmentally sound, robust economically and represent a good return for public investment.
"There will be an adverse effect on the countryside but we will mitigate against that. We're also looking at other transport modes.
"We are looking for people's views and there's no guarantee the road will ever be built. The scheme won't go forward until it has the full backing of the region, is accepted by ministers and has statutory approval."
The agency consultation document said the scheme would use low noise road surfacing, planting and environmental barriers to help reduce the level of sound and to screen views from properties near the new carriageway.
The proposal would not directly affect any designated areas of environmental interest and the majority of land taken would be from arable farmland areas with generally low ecological value.
Rodney Bass, Essex County Council's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "We are delighted that the Highways Agency on behalf of the Department of Transport have published their plans and we shall obviously be commenting on the detail of the scheme.
"We greatly welcome the public consultation now under way and will be working closely with the agency to agree the optimum route and to make sure the road is delivered as soon as possible."
n The public have another chance to air their views today at St Peter's Community Hall, Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, from 10am to 5pm, and there will be further meetings at Kelvedon Institute, High Street, Kelvedon, on February 11 from 1pm to 8pm, and at St Andrew's Church, Church Lane, Marks Tey on February 12 from 10am to 4pm.