Q. What is the potential environmental impact of the new scheme and have any studies been done into the effect on local wildlife?
A. Protecting our environment and our natural habitat is really important to Gloucestershire County Council and we wouldn’t be proposing the scheme if it didn’t respect that. The Highways Agency (now Highways England), which originally drew up the A417 Loop plan, looked very carefully at the issue of environmental impact when drawing up its original options appraisal in 2003. All the proposals going forward would help cut CO2 emissions.
Highways England is working closely with local authorities, technical stakeholders and environmental groups such as the Cotswolds Conservation Board, to ensure we avoid any unacceptable impacts on the surrounding natural environment and landscape and to optimise the environmental opportunities and mitigation that the proposals may bring.
A. The campaign for the loop has been successful as Government has now allocated funding for a solution. The ‘loop’ was the most cost effective and viable option at the time, and is still an option going forward. However Highways England needs to investigate all available options in full. All data and information gathered by our campaign will be considered in this process.
A. Yes, Highways England did investigate several options before in 2003, and the loop was the most viable option at that time. This scheme is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008. As such, Highways England is required to make an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to gain authorisation to construct the scheme.
More information about the Development Consent Order process can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website: http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk
Q. A ‘Development Consent Order’ sounds like submitting planning permission, how can they allocate funding if you don’t have this already?
A. All schemes of national significance are legally required to go through extensive consultation before an application is submitted. After the Highways England investigations and a large public consultation have taken place, we will know what the best solution is for the area.
The application sets out the design of the new road, the effect on other roads and the land needed for the scheme. Once we are clear on what we want to do, we can apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO). This has been taken into account in the timelines published so far, and it will not delay the promise of work beginning as early as possible in the next Roads Period which starts in 2020.