Assistant land management adviser Rupert Weaver reports on our work to ensure that a better A14 does not come at the expense of farmers along the route.
Those of you who are regular users of the busy A14 will no doubt have experienced long delays, especially on a Friday evening during rush hour, thanks to the ongoing roadworks caused by the Huntingdon to Cambridge improvement scheme.
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This is designed to improve and upgrade the route, widen several sections of the road and add a new bypass south of Huntingdon.
But the work doesn’t just affect drivers. Many of our farmer and grower members along the 23 mile route are also being hit. Members with land being used either temporarily or permanently as a part of the scheme are currently experiencing limited access to parts of their farms, while some of that land may be in a much poorer state once it is returned to them.
The NFU is of course supporting any of those farmers affected and is working closely with Highways England which is the lead agency on the project. We are asking that land is not taken for construction unless it’s absolutely necessary, and that soil and drainage conditions are returned to a correctly functioning state. This would make a real difference to our members who would not only have better access but have less land taken temporarily and permanently, see less deterioration to the quality of their land and less uncertainty over the proposed plans.
In the past few months we have highlighted our concerns to the Planning Inspectorate, made two submissions – one to the Examining Authority at a hearing on compulsory acquisition, and a letter to the Examining Authority and Highways England, raising issues around soil storage and management and field drainage.
The NFU will continue to monitor how the scheme is progressing and advise our farmer and grower members as necessary.