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County Council to run consultations on M6 Link changes

John Freeman
Artist's Impression: How the new bypass will look.

Lancashire County Council will be holding additional public consultations on design changes to the Heysham-M6 Link.

The latest consultations will update local people on changes to the scheme, provide more information about the plans and explain the future process.

These latest steps follow the government's 'green light' on changes to the £137m plus Heysham-M6 Link, which also provides a firm offer of government funding. Design changes were made after the Department for Transport asked the county council to reduce the overall cost.

Before the scheme goes to examination stage next year the Infrastructure Planning Commission requires the County Council to do more consultation and seek the views of local people - something the council has been unwilling to do so far. The council has interpreted this somewhat differently however. Last month, the Campaign for Better Transport noted that the Council's newsletter stated that they won't be consulting on "the need for the road or its location" but "how it will look". So it seems local people won't be allowed to comment on the fundamental issue of the road itself, merely the colour of the lamp posts, If, of course, they haven't already been scrapped due to cost cutting.

Taking place between June and July, the consultation will include public exhibitions at various locations in the area.

Steve McCreesh, project manager, said: "It’s very important that we make sure that people know and understand what the Heysham – M6 Link will deliver and how it will be constructed.

"People will be able to come along to the consultation events and have their say on the proposed changes to the design of the road and because the scheme is now a lot further developed, we can show and explain what the road will really look like, in a way they can easily relate to."

Localised consultation is ongoing with residents affected by the changes. The county council is currently completing design work, taking into account residents' comments. We are aiming to consult again with further proposals in early April.

An amended planning application will need to be submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission and the decision will be made by the Secretary of State.

The application to the IPC will be made in the summer following the consultation.

The IPC is an independent public body responsible for the assessment and approval of nationally significant infrastructure projects. It is likely that the Heysham-M6 link will be the first road scheme progressed through this new process.

The new planning process will mean construction is now estimated to begin Spring 2013.

The consultations will take place as follows:

- Thursday 9th June - 2.30 - 7.30pm, Memorial Hall, Hanging Green Lane, Slyne with Hest
- Friday 10th June - 2.30 - 7.30pm,Lune Parks Children's Centre, Ryelands Park, Lancaster
- Monday 13th June - 11.30am - 4.30pm, The Atlantic Room, Cannon Hygiene, Northgate, White Lund Industrial Estate
- Tuesday 14th June - 2.30 - 7.30pm, The Centre@Halton, Low Road, Halton
- Wednesday 15th June - 2.30 - 7.30pm, Torrisholme Methodist Church Hall, Norwood Drive