Pressure on Government to dual the A1 grows as 18 parish councils in Northumberland slam delays

The Government is facing increasing pressure to green-light the project to dual the A1 in Northumberland.
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The Department for Transport has confirmed it will make a decision on the future of the project on September 5, following three lengthy delays since the start of 2022.

Now, 18 rural parish councils in north Northumberland have penned a letter criticising the repeated delays and outlined the benefits the project would bring to the North East. The letter was sent to Transport North East calling for the group’s backing.

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It read: “Ord Parish Council is writing to Transport North East on behalf of 18 North Northumberland Parish Councils to raise our disappointment that the consideration for the next phase of the dualling of the A1 has been paused until at least September 2023, which in turns means even if the green light is given to allow the next phase to commence works may not start until at least 2024 if not later.

Traffic on a single-lane section of the A1 in Northumberland. Photo: NCJ Media.Traffic on a single-lane section of the A1 in Northumberland. Photo: NCJ Media.
Traffic on a single-lane section of the A1 in Northumberland. Photo: NCJ Media.

“The national press has reported that up to date £67m has been spent on future phases of dualling the A1, however, to date there has been no progress.

“The A1 needs to be dualled preferably up to the Scottish border for the following reasons:1- Economy- This would benefit and support local businesses as well as attracting new businesses to North Northumberland.2- Health & safety- There has been numerous accidents on this road over the years, which has included the loss of life and life changing injuries.3- Tourism- This would attract additional tourism to the area, which would benefit local businesses and create jobs for local residents.4- The A1 is classed as the strategic road into Scotland.”

Transport North East (TNE), which works to improve transport across the region, is in full support of the plans.

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A spokesman for TNE said: “Dualling the A1 is an agreed strategic priority for the region and is included in the North East Transport Plan. As such, Transport North East fully supports the A1 Morpeth to Ellingham dualling scheme.

“The final decision on the project has been postponed on a number of occasions and it is imperative that a decision is made as soon as possible to avoid further delays.

“The delivery of this scheme is fundamentally important in improving network resilience, safety and journey time reliability on this strategic route and will help facilitate future economic growth, including the development of the planned Fairmoor Enterprise Zone on the new junction between the A1, and the northern bypass link to South East Northumberland.

“Moreover, the rural location of this section of the A1 also means that the development will improve connectivity for rural residents, who rely on the route. ”

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The Government has confirmed it will make a decision on the project next month, but has given no indication as to what that decision will be. If approved, the project would see a 13-mile stretch of the key route between Morpeth and Ellingham upgraded.

A decision was originally due in January 2022, which was then pushed back twice – first to June and then again to December, before finally being delayed nine months until the current September deadline.

The letter was supported by the following parish councils:

  • Adderstone with Lucker
  • Ancroft
  • Beadnell
  • Branxton
  • Belford
  • Cornhill
  • Doddington
  • Duddo
  • Ellingham
  • Ford
  • Holy Island
  • Horncliffe
  • Kirknewton
  • Lowick
  • Norham
  • North Sunderland
  • Ord
  • Tillside