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A12 bypass project ‘would bring benefits for area’s growing economy’

PUBLISHED: 08:13 12 September 2017

Traffic sits on the A12 at Farnham following an accident north of the village. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Traffic sits on the A12 at Farnham following an accident north of the village. Picture: SIMON PARKER

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Details of the two options for a bypass around four traffic-plagued villages on the A12 have been unveiled – and the project could cost around £100million.

Marlesford Farm Shop and Cafe on the A12 - the new bypass would cross land behind the premises. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMarlesford Farm Shop and Cafe on the A12 - the new bypass would cross land behind the premises. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Villagers will be asked for their views on two routes – one a 60mph single carriageway and the other a 70mph dual carriageway – as part of a project aimed at improving quality of life for people in Farnham, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Marlesford and boosting the economy of the region.

It is a major step forward after more than 20 years of campaigning for action to end the growing traffic misery of living alongside the A12, and which residents fear will get worse if Sizewell C is built.

Both routes will leave the A12 heading north from Wickham Market where the current dual carriageway ends, just before the Marlesford Farm Cafe and Shop, to the east and going behind Marlesford Mill and around the villages, crossing the Alde and Ore rivers, to rejoin the A12 at a new roundabout at the A1094 at Friday Street.

The project will cut out the four-and-a-half mile single carriageway section through the villages where there have been many accidents, tailbacks due to congestion and problems with air quality.

Options for the Four Villages Bypass on the A12 Suffolk Energy Gateway route. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILOptions for the Four Villages Bypass on the A12 Suffolk Energy Gateway route. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Public consultation starts today and county councillor Alexander Nicoll, member with special responsibility for highways information, is hoping many people will give their views.

He said: “The idea is to create a better route – not only relieving the problems of those living in the four villages but in terms of access to the wider region of East Suffolk by trying to support the economy and develop the economy while creating an easier and more efficient transport route.”

The A12 between Ipswich and Lowestoft has been rebranded Suffolk’s Energy Gateway (SEGWay) and Mr Nicoll said the improved route would be vital for the existing nuclear industry and the growing offshore wind farm sector.

However, the bypass did not hinge on approval of proposals for the Sizewell C twin reactor – though EDF Energy could be made to contribute some funding towards the new road should the power station project be given the go-ahead.

A wind turbine is carried through the Farnham bend, taking up both carriageways. Picture: PETER NORRISA wind turbine is carried through the Farnham bend, taking up both carriageways. Picture: PETER NORRIS

At this stage EDF has only said it will contribute towards a two-village bypass but Mr Nicoll said “four villages makes more sense than two if you are doing anything at all”.

The single carriageway bypass will cost about £50m and the dual carriageway £100m, though this is only a ballpark figure at this stage. Under the current proposals, the Government would be expected to fund 80% and the county and district council, and New Anglia LEP, who are working closely together on the scheme, the remainder.

Benefits of the proposed scheme would be to:

● Reduce congestion and journey delay;

People campaigning for the four villages bypass, now called the Suffolk Energy Gateway, in 2014. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPeople campaigning for the four villages bypass, now called the Suffolk Energy Gateway, in 2014. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

● Improve journey time reliability, providing support for the local economy and improved productivity;

● Provide the capacity required to enable, support and deliver growth across all economic sectors, including the potential future construction and operation of Sizewell C;

● Reduce accidents;

● Improve air quality and reduce noise for communities alongside the A12;

Some members of the Four Villages Bypass group campaigning in Farnham in 2014. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSome members of the Four Villages Bypass group campaigning in Farnham in 2014. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

● Future-proof the function of the A12 as part of Suffolk’s emerging Major Road Network.

Mr Nicoll said the consultation – which runs until October 25 – was the “starting gun” and a vital step foward for a major piece of infrastructure with many facets and benefits.

He said: “I am delighted to be able to share the two options we have developed to build a new bypass between Saxmundham and Wickham Market.

“As part of Suffolk’s Energy Gateway, this scheme aims to improve the road network and support economic growth in east Suffolk. This will enhance the quality of life for local people and future generations. Both proposed routes provide significant environmental and economic benefits, improving transport links, air quality and road safety.

Logo for the EADTs Bypass 4 the Villages campaignLogo for the EADTs Bypass 4 the Villages campaign

“It is vital that we understand and appreciate people’s views concerning this scheme before we submit our final case to Government. I urge all locally to have their say on this consultation.”

Two exhibition sessions will be held at the Riverside Centre, Stratford St Andrew, from 10am to 6pm, on September 20 and September 23. Full details of the proposals can also be viewed at www.suffolk.gov.uk/consulations

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