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Proposals for the improvement of the A66 between M6 junction 40 at Penrith and the A1(M) at Scotch Corner have been the subject of extensive study and consultation since 2017. The process of options identification and route selection leading to the proposed project is summarised in Chapter 3: Alternatives Considered of the PEI Report. The process involved the following stages:
- Corridor identification and initial sifting of corridors
- Development of route options within preferred corridors
- Route options appraisal and sifting to identify options to take forward for further appraisal
- The selection of route options, which were taken to non-statutory public consultation in Summer 2019
- The selection of the Preferred Route which was announced by the Secretary of State in May 2020
- Preliminary design stage assessment comprising further development of the Preferred Route, as well as some additional appraisal of alternative alignment routes for a number of the schemes
Throughout the process, a range of options for each scheme have been investigated and assessed against a range of engineering, economic, financial and environmental criteria. Part of this decision making is the preference expressed through consultation and engagement processes by members of the public, organisations and statutory bodies and the themes which emerged from their feedback.
This feedback has been used to inform further design and development work on some elements of the project. Further engagement identified that there were opportunities to improve the design and its deliverability through further design refinement. Engagement with affected landowners and ongoing environmental assessment has also informed the amendments made.
Collaboration between the environmental disciplines and design engineers has been an integral part of this design development process. This has sought to avoid and reduce environmental impacts of the design, whilst taking into account responses received during the non-statutory consultation.
Details of the options taken to non-statutory public consultation can be found in the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project Options Consultation Report (Highways England, 2020) available at https ://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/a66-northern-trans-pennine/results/options_consultation_report_aw_lo_res.pdf
Details of the Preferred Route, the results of the public consultation, and main reasons for the selection of the Preferred Route are presented in the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project Preferred Route Announcement (Highways England, Spring 2020) available at https ://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/a66-northern-trans-pennine/results/pra_report_aw_lo_res.pdf
Further to the announcement of the Preferred Route, further work and refinement has been undertaken as part of the ongoing preliminary design stage. This has included further development of the design of the Preferred Route, as well the identification of alternative alignment routes considered in response to further work undertaken to understand the baseline environment and having regard to consultation and engagement responses.
Subsequent to the PRA it was determined that works are also required to the junctions with the M6 at Penrith (J40) and the A1(M) at Scotch Corner, in order to ensure the entire route achieves consistent standards and meets the project objectives.
Details of the design refinements and alternative alignment routes considered since the PRA are provided in Chapter 3: Alternatives Considered of the PEI Report. These design refinements and alternative alignments are summarised in Table 3-2 and Table 3-3 below. Further details on the options considered are set out in the consultation document A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Route Development Report.