A final decision on whether to proceed with plans to re-route the A59 at Kex Gill has been delayed.
Despite receiving extensive support from the public and North Yorkshire county councillors, the plans could now be called in by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Today’s meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s planning and regulatory functions committee unanimously supported the plans in order to prevent the continued disruption caused by landslips along the current route of the A59.
Committee chairman Peter Sowray said:
“I don’t think anyone can question the need for this road and it’s obviously impossible to build a road in this sensitive location without some harm to the environment, and to nature and wildlife.
“But I am satisfied that there are mitigation measures in place, both inside and outside the designated areas, to make it so that we can approve this route.”
However, councillors were unable to give the final sign-off to the proposal because minerals company Sibelco has asked the Secretary of State to call it in.
The committee heard from Lewis Williams, representing Sibelco, which argued the valuable minerals in the area should be given more consideration.
Although the Blubberhouses quarry closed some years ago, he said there remained significant mineral deposits which were valuable to industry but had been overlooked in a plan that was “ham-fisted, rushed and ill conceived”.
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Objections were also received from nearby residents, who cited concerns about the impact on the surrounding countryside, which is subject to several designations for its beauty and importance.
Councillors were told that their approval of the scheme would be subject to a further agreement being made on mitigating measures against the environmental impact of the changes.
In their report to the meeting, the impact on the landscape and wildlife was acknowledged by council officers, but they said extensive planning had not found a better way to re-route the road.
While today’s unanimous vote in support of the proposal is a significant step forward, NYCC will have to wait to hear whether the Secretary of State will call in the plans as requested, before any work can begin.