Heysham to M6 Link road gets the green light
One of Lancashire's top priority transport projects has received the go-ahead, heralding a new era for economic growth and better transport on the Morecambe and Heysham peninsula.
Construction of the Heysham to M6 Link road is set to begin this summer after the Secretary of State for Transport granted approval for the project following a lengthy planning and public inquiry process.
The new road will connect the Heysham and Morecambe peninsula directly to the M6 and provide improved access for residents, businesses and tourists to the area. As well as easing congestion in and around Lancaster, the project will also deliver on a number of associated improvements, including a park and ride scheme with buses running into the city centre.
It will also provide better access to Morecambe and industrial areas which include the Port of Heysham and the Heysham power stations.
The port, the third largest in the North West, is developing as a hub for services to Ireland. It is the supply base for major offshore gas field and wind farms. The road would also improve access to a proposed third nuclear power station. Road access to the port, which specialises in roll-on roll-off freight, is currently severely congested and unreliable, with increasing costs and falling efficiency acting as a barrier to further growth.
The approval granted by the government includes compulsory purchase powers as well as the planning permission and the county council will now write to the affected land owners and start the formal process of acquiring the remaining land required for the road. Archaeological investigation works have already begun. This involves using excavators to dig trial trenches to establish if there are any finds that require further investigation before the main construction works begin later in the summer.
The estimated cost of the project is £123m. The Department for Transport have said they will contribute £111m and Lancashire County Council will fund the remaining £12m.
The main benefits of the scheme include:
- Improving journey times and reducing congestion.
- Better local air quality especially in areas subject to high levels of pollution such as the city centre and the centre of Carnforth.
- Improving journey times to popular tourist and recreation areas in the North West.
- Improved access to existing industrial areas and development sites, providing a boost to the local economy.
- Construction alone is expected to employ over 3,000 people. Around 100 local unemployed people will also receive training and jobs during construction.
- Improved access to the proposed new nuclear power station.
- A 'park and ride' scheme will help to boost the Lancaster economy by improving access to the city centre.
- Improved air quality, biodiversity, bus, cycle and walking opportunities.the scheme includes a number of measures to protect the environment by improving wildlife habitats, tree cover and watercourses.
Heysham to M6 link - aerial view (click for larger image)