PLANS TO UPGRADE KEY ROUTE TO SOUTH WEST - DECISION ON THE BLACKDOWN HILLS
29 November 2004 - DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
Plans to protect the environmentally sensitive Blackdown Hills and improve a key strategic route to the South West were announced today by Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling.
The plan to upgrade the A358 from near Illminster to the M5 at Taunton - follows completion of detailed technical work that assessed the option of improving the A303 through the Blackdown Hills or improving the A358.
The A358 route avoids any environmental impact on the Blackdown Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty, and demonstrates good value for money - saving the taxpayer £90m over the alternative option. The Highways Agency will now prepare detailed plans so that the A358 option can be considered for inclusion in the Targeted programme of Improvements, the Government''s programme of approved road schemes.
Alistair Darling, Transport Secretary said:
''We are committed to improving the road network - tackling congestion and improving safety. After careful consideration, I have decided that the A358 is the best option to upgrade the route to the South West.
''This decision reaffirms the Government''s commitment to add road capacity where necessary, whilst ensuring that environmental consequences are fully considered and mitigated.
''Improving the A358 will protect the Blackdown Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty, and bring real benefits to the region - reducing journey times for tourist and business traffic heading to and from the South West.''
For November 2004
From DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
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