The final decision on whether to approve a £1.3 billion infrastructure programme has been pushed back by four months.
The secretary of state for transport had been scheduled to decide the outcome of a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine project on Tuesday (7 November).
However, due to ‘unresolved’ matters in the Examining Authority’s report received on 7 August, “further consideration” is required, said transport minister Huw Merriman MP.
It includes the impact of the major infrastructure scheme on the North Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation (NPMSAC).
The new deadline for the DCO decision is 7 March 2024.
The major project involves dualling single carriageway sections, as well as key junction improvements, between M6 Junction 40 (Penrith) and the A1 at Scotch Corner, a more than 50-mile section of road across mountainous terrain.
Balfour Beatty, Costain, Keltbray and Kier were appointed to the project, dubbed “one of the most critical road upgrades in the north”, in October last year.
However, Costain’s highways division was subsequently pulled from the project in what appeared to be a mutually agreed contractual review between National Highways and Costain.
“This statement confirms that it has been necessary to extend the deadline for the decision on the application by National Highways under the Planning Act 2008 for the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Development Consent Order (DCO),” said Huw Merriman MP.
“The reason for the extension is to allow for further consideration of matters including those not resolved at the time the Examining Authority’s report was received by the secretary of state.
“This will include the consideration of information submitted by the applicant regarding impacts on the North Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation […].”
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