Councillors are calling for a stronger environmental commitment to be made by Highways England in their plans to upgrade the A428.
Council calls for strengthened green commitment ahead of A428 upgrade
At a meeting of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet yesterday (Monday), members agreed that they supported the plans to upgrade the road in principle, subject to clarification around several areas – including a strengthened commitment to enhancing nature during and after the construction work.
Highways England is currently consulting residents and local organisations, including Councils, on its plans to upgrade the A428 between the Black Cat roundabout near St Neots to Caxton Gibbett. The route that was put forward for consultation is based on the one that the Council preferred when it responded to a previous consultation on the route options in 2017. It’s hoped that the upgraded road will improve journey times and support the economy. It is expected that the route would cut the average commute between the Black Cat and Caxton Gibbet junctions by more than a third, saving drivers around 10 minutes on their commute.
At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Cabinet members discussed how the Council will be responding to the consultation. They agreed that the authority continues to support the scheme in principle, subject to clarification on key areas – including several green aspects.
Questions around the environmental implications of the upgrade raised by South Cambridgeshire District Council include the need for clarification on the transport impacts of the road, bearing in mind the authority’s commitment to working towards making the district carbon-neutral by 2050.
The Council is also asking for clarification around the design of new junctions, how the upgraded road will support public transport and cycling, and a stronger commitment to leaving a positive mark on communities and the environment during and after construction work. More information is also requested around the proposed approach to air quality, noise and vibration monitoring before, during and after construction. It is also expected that Highways England learns lessons from the current A14 upgrade work – including improved communication and engagement with local communities.
The Council’s final response will now be drafted, informed by the discussions at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and conversations with local members, before being submitted to Highways England. Council officers finalising the response will work to provide a joined-up response with local partners including the Greater Cambridge Partnership, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and Huntingdonshire District Council. If each organisation agrees, the Council’s comments could form part of a single, joint response.
The closing date for the consultation, which residents can also respond to, is Sunday 28 July.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Deputy Leader and Lead Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, commented: “I’ve said many times that anyone who travels on the A428 will tell you just how vital it is that the road is improved. We do support these upgrade plans in principle. However, we are making a strong case that, wherever anything is built, or any new roads put in, we should be using it as an opportunity to enhance nature and the local environment. There are so many ways we can improve the environment – through improved air quality, better access to the countryside, more opportunities for walking and cycling and increased use of public transport – while also getting a better A428. It’s also hugely important that Highways England learns lessons from the current challenging A14 upgrade and uses that experience to shape its plans and communications before, during and after the construction work.”
To find out more about the route, visit the Highways England website.
South Cambridgeshire is the second largest district in Cambridgeshire.