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Bypass inquiry draws to a close

[Friday 24 February 2006]

The public inquiry in to the proposed revocation orders for bypasses around three Dales villages draws to a close today.

The inquiry, which began on Tuesday at Gargrave School, is due to culminate with the inquiry chairman carrying out a site visit to see for himself the route of the proposed bypasses.

As part of its de-trunking process for the A65, the Highways Agency wants to revoke the orders that almost saw bypass schemes for the villages of Gargrave, Hellifield and Long Preston go out to tender in the early 1990's.

On Tuesday concerned residents watched the Highways Agency setting out its case in relation to the Government's policy on transport and its White Paper, entitled 'A new deal for trunk roads in England'.

The inquiry heard that the aim of White Paper is to restrict trunk road status to roads of national, rather than local or regional significance.

The Agency argued that since the Department of Transport has decided that the A65 is not a core trunk road and carries only regional traffic, and since the Government has decided not to proceed with the bypass schemes, it is appropriate to revoke the orders.

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) also gave evidence on Tuesday and disputed the projected cost of the bypasses as stated by the Highways Agency.

NYCC claim that their estimated cost is £18 million for Gargrave and £27 million for Hellifield and Long Preston. The Highways Agency quoted a national formula that puts the cost of the Gargrave bypass at £30 million and the Hellifield and Long Preston bypasses at £60 million.

Wednesday saw evidence presented to the inquiry from other objectors, including Craven District Council which believes that the protected lines for the development of the bypasses must be retained for possible future relief road schemes.

Another key plank of evidence from the Council concentrated on quality of life issues for the village's residents, arguing that they must be given some relief from the ever increasing volume of traffic.

Thursday saw the summing up of arguments from all parties and is followed by today's site visit when the inquiry chairman will see first hand the volume of traffic that residents have to deal with on a daily basis.

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