Devon County Council has published three route options for a controversial new section of the A30/A303, as it aims to secure funding through the Government’s Road Investment Strategy (RIS).
The council is proposing that five miles of the existing single carriageway stretch between the Honiton Bypass and Devonshire Inn (the junction of the A30 with the A303) should be replaced.
A30/A303 junction by Devonshire Farm
The proposed new road represents the first section of plans to improve the route between Honiton and Ilminster. Devon is promoting and developing the scheme to a preferred route stage with the aim of securing funding through the RIS.
It has launched a two-month public consultation before it makes a decision on its ‘suggested route’ for the scheme, which can then be considered as part of the South West Peninsula route strategy.
Highways England is currently developing improvements to the A358, the A303, and other sections of the A303/A30.
The A303/A30/A358 corridor provides a main arterial link between the South East and the South West peninsular.
The council said when the schemes are constructed, they will support growth and ‘contribute to unlocking the economic potential of the region’.
However, the new road lies within the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a nationally protected landscape, as does the existing route.
The council said it ‘has adopted an environment-led approach in developing options’.
A dual carriageway has been ruled out because forecast traffic flows are too low to justify the high costs of construction and because it would require much more land than a single carriageway, resulting in additional adverse environmental impacts on the AONB.
All three options are estimated to cost around £170m and will comprise a wide carriageway with three lanes.
The Campaign for Better Transport has opposed the plans. James MacColl, head of campaigns, said: ‘You cannot protect and enhance an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by building a road through it. Just such a scheme was already dropped in 2004 for environmental reasons and alternative routes are already being developed.
‘New roads create new traffic, which the Blackdown Hills and nearby towns need like a hole in the head. 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.’