Calls for A1 dualling in Northumberland planning approval to be brought forward after Prime Minister's funding announcement

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Although the Prime Minister’s funding announcement for the long-awaited project to dual a section of the A1 in Northumberland has been welcomed, calls have been made to give the project planning approval as soon as possible.

Rishi Sunak made the pledge during his speech at the Conservative Party Conference last week, saying he would use money saved from scrapping the northern leg of HS2 to fund road upgrades across the country, including the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham.

However, there have been a number of delays over whether or not to approve the scheme and a final decision was recently put back until June next year – and the Department for Transport confirmed this week that the Development Consent Order (DCO) process for the project is currently still in place.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This has led some councillors and others to say that they will only believe it will go ahead when they see spades in the ground.

The A1 near Felton, which needs dualling.The A1 near Felton, which needs dualling.
The A1 near Felton, which needs dualling.

In March, more than a dozen parish councils across north Northumberland, led by Belford Parish Council, united to express their frustration at the delays.

Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, chairman of Belford Parish Council and Conservative Bamburgh ward county councillor, said: “The A1 funding announcement is great news for all of us who have been campaigning for years to upgrade the road.

“The extra money from HS2 is important because the cost of dualling is now much higher than the £290million ring-fenced by David Cameron.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But after a few years of delays, many residents are sceptical and want to see diggers in the ground. Parish and county councils will be pushing the DfT to get the consent order signed as soon as possible.”

Morpeth Chamber of Trade chairman Ken Stait said: “We will believe it when we see machinery on site and spades in the ground.

“We’ve had so many false dawns with this that we need the works to start for us to be confident that the A1 dualling project is actually going to happen.

“All the behind-the-scenes work has been done, so it should be easy for the Government to press the go button for the DCO and get the construction teams on site as soon as possible.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alnwick county councillor Gordon Castle said: “The frustrating Government delays in making a final decision on A1 dualling have resulted in the mandatory DCO being pushed back to June 2024.

“The environmental reasons given at the time I found unconvincing and hid the true cause of the delay that has now been made clear – lack of funding.

“The Government has now allocated funding, so in my view there is no reason to delay the DCO.

“The money is found, the plans are made, tens of millions have already been spent and the DCO just needs the minister’s signature, so let’s get on with it now!”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Conservative county councillor for Morpeth North, David Bawn, said: “I am delighted by the Government’s confirmation that the proposed A1 dualling will go ahead after so much recent uncertainty.

“This is a vital project to upgrade our transport infrastructure and should proceed as soon as possible, especially as so much of the background planning has already taken place and the route confirmed. I therefore call upon the Government to prove the nay-sayers wrong and proceed as soon as possible with the formal consent so we can get works commenced.”

Cllr Scott Dickinson, Northumberland Labour Group leader, said: “Obviously, we welcome any investment into Northumberland, but on the A1 I don’t think anyone will believe this investment will happen now until we actually see digging work commencing.

“For 10 years this project has been promised, land compulsory purchased and it’s been stalled and scrapped so many times the public have lost all faith. So many Prime Ministers have used photo opportunities on the run-up to elections along with the MP and I just hope for the sake of local people this isn’t just a repeat of that.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The Labour county council at the time submitted the economic impact assessment to Government and continue to support the investment and the benefits it will bring – we got the Government to listen, but have waited for action since.”