[Electoral Divisions: Penrith Rural, Penrith West, Penrith East, Alston And East Fellside, Eden Lakes, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen]
To consider a report from the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure.
This reportprovides Eden Local Committee with some background to the scheme and invites members of Eden Local Committee to raise comments to inform the Council’s response.
A report was considered from the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure regarding Cumbria County Council's response to National Highways' Statutory Consultation (Pre-Dco Submission) A66 Northern Trans Pennine Project. The report provided the Local Committee with background to the scheme and invited members to raise comments to inform the Council’s response.
The Senior Programme Lead presented the report and provided the background to the project. The public consultation process was explained and the contribution that the County Council and other local authorities’ (as host authorities) would have in the consultation process was reported. The planning process for the project was explained with it being noted that the Planning Inspectorate would determine the planning application in Spring 2022. Members’ attention was drawn to the impacts identified so far. Members’ views would be added to these impacts, then presented to Cabinet. Officers would produce a detailed technical report which would be issued as the County Council’s formal consultation response prior to the deadline of the 6th November 2021.
The Chair thanked the Senior Programme Lead for the help he had given to members and commented positively on the detailed briefings they had received.
A member commented on the importance of active travel to Eden Local Committee due to its positive impact on physical health and mental wellbeing. He considered that the project could provide a great opportunity for active travel across an East - West corridor by utilising de-trunked sections of the A66. The de-trunked sections could also be used to enhance connectivity for local residents to ensure their access to the road network was not compromised by the project. The member also highlighted that a number of diversion routes were in his division and these had been ignored by National Highways. He stressed the importance of this being addressed by National Highways. He considered it important that an audit be undertaken on the A685 from Brough to the M6 and that any improvements should be funded by National Highways before construction began.
A member asked how the project would address junction 40 capacity issues. She asked for assurance that this would be addressed and requested further detail about it. The member also referred to the consideration of a 50mph speed limit at Kemplay Bank. She wanted assurance that this would not impact negatively on the Fire Service and Police. The same member referred to local drainage/flooding issues, stating that residents at Skirsgill Lane suffered similar issues to those at Warcop. She asked what consideration had been given to residents living adjacent to the A66 particularly in relation to flooding. The member also referred to the Environment Agency’s flood defence work and asked what work had been undertaken to ensure that the A66 project did not impact on that.
The Senior Programme Lead explained what work the County Council, as Highways Authority, had undertaken in reviewing the plans. He reported on the proposed road configuration on the roundabout and surrounding roads and the modelling undertaken. National Highways had advised that capacity would be increased however, officers required further information to be assured that the junction would provide sufficient capacity. Officers would request to see the other options that National Highways had considered at junction 40.
Members were informed that the Senior Programme Lead had met with the Fire Service and Police with regard to the 50mph speed limit proposed, but further work with National Highways was required in relation to enforcement. Members were reassured that the County Council, as Flood Authority would need to be assured that any surface run off would be dealt with appropriately. Officers would work with National Highways to ensure the project did not increase instances of flooding. Similarly, with de-trunked areas, officers wanted to be assured that anything inherited drainage-wise was fit for purpose.
After highlighting that no flood prevention work had been undertaken at Skirsgill Lane, Eamont Bridge, a member advised that residents were concerned about catchment ponds as they had been flooded three times. The member wanted to be assured that all flood areas were being taken into consideration. She asked what consideration was being given to residents who lived adjacent to the A66 and may be affected by the project, specifically in terms of run off from the new carriageway. The Senior Programme Lead undertook to speak to Flood colleagues to ensure that this was specifically considered. The member requested that she be updated in due course.
A member reported on a consultation meeting, which he had attended where National Highways had spoken about the review of plans for junction 40 and Kemplay Bank. The member reported on the large volume of traffic on the first lane of junction 40 on a weekday afternoon even before work on the junction had started. The member did not think that a large amount of traffic could get through Kemplay Bank and there would be significant issues at the location as it would be the main road to be used during closure of the M6. The Chair stated that this would have knock on effects in Penrith. The member stated that National Highways had scant information on the roads to be used during the construction phase and highlighted that an increase in traffic would damage the roads. He suggested that an HGV parking area be identified. The member thought that consideration should be given to whether the type of road being proposed would be appropriate for the amount of traffic that was going to use it. The Chair suggested the provision of a service station as this would benefit the large number of HGV’s utilising the route and the wider area in economic terms.
The Senior Programme Lead advised that officers were undertaking an assessment of the provision of services for HGVs and would be liaising with the Haulage Association on this matter. He added that provision for HGVs was currently inadequate and explained that there were concerns about the junction 40 pinch point and the impact that increased traffic would have upon it.
A member referred to walking, cycling and equestrian connectivity at Kemplay Bank and junction 40 as this had been raised by residents. The member asked if there was an opportunity to move the route slightly away from the road as it was considered to be too close and would enhance the user experience if it was moved. The member referred to a potential alternative route at Brougham junction and the issues that could occur there as there was no right turn. It was highlighted that road diversions and blockages could impact on traffic and parking in Penrith. She stated that it had taken many years to develop the Penrith Parking and Movement Study and the project could impact negatively upon it.
The same member stressed the importance of a legacy benefit from the project. She highlighted that if the project created local jobs and local contractors were employed, then locally based higher education courses should be provided. This would allow young people to secure a job on the project and stay in Eden. The Senior Programme Lead explained how it was a long term project so there would be discussions with education providers to provide relevant courses. He commented on the potential for the project to have a positive impact on the local supply chain and stated that the County Council wanted to see a skills strategy from National Highways which included their plans for an educational legacy. Another member thought that the significant financial investment in the road would have a positive impact on the wider economy.
A member urged National Highways to ensure that both ends of the road were kept open during construction as road users would need to get clear access and egress at both ends.
The Chair thanked the Senior Programme Lead for the work undertaken to date. He stressed how important it was that National Highways considered the consultation responses in detail and acted upon them.
1 Eden Local Committee notes the summary of issues outlined at paragraph 4.7 of the report and the minute of the discussion held at the meeting will be used to inform the Council’s response, which will be considered by Cabinet on 21st October 2021.
2 The Senior Programme Lead speak to Flood colleagues about Skirsgill Lane at Eamont Bridge about catchment ponds and advise Miss Fearon of the response.