Highways chiefs questioned over handling of Copdock interchange plan
- Credit: National Highways/Richard Rout/ ROSS BENTLEY
Landowners have expressed shock after highways chiefs announced a possible new road to relieve congestion on the A14/A12 Copdock interchange - saying they weren't even told.
National Highways has revealed two possible options to improve traffic flow at the notorious interchange, and now put them out to public consultation. There is currently no funding committed to either idea.
Option one is to increase the capacity of the existing junction to help accommodate the future demand. This will be done by widening the circulatory carriageway and the provision of free flow left turn lanes at three of the four entry arms.
Option two is to decrease the volume of traffic at existing junction by removing the A12 (South) to A14 (East) (and vice versa) movements onto separate link roads. This option will see a new free flow two-way grade-separated link road built.
Deputy leader of Suffolk County Council Richard Rout, who owns land with his mum near Belstead Hall and Belstead Meadows, where the potential new road could go, said he was not consulted on the transport authority's plan.
Mr Rout, who stressed this was not the view of SCC and will not be part of the discussion on National Highways plans at the council, added: "The first my mother and I knew of the proposed route through our land, was when we picked up the EADT [Friday] morning.
"The communications from National Highways have been scarce, disgraceful, and shown scant regard for the community.
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"In the light of the declaration of climate emergencies by all local authorities in Suffolk, the erosion of so much natural habitat and established trees and the building of new roads on this scale (which will only increase traffic) seems wholly unjustified," he added.
His mum Valerie Clift was also alerted on October 16 to a transport box found on the land in Belstead, which was not given permission to be there. It was taken down on October 18 but she was not given an explanation of why it was there.
She added: “We’d been approached to allow access for environmental surveys but were given no notice at all of this news. We’ve had no sight of a detailed map, which is really adding to our anxiety."
National Highways said Mr Rout and Ms Clift had received letters in the summer requesting access for an ecology survey which contained a section that a consultation was to follow in the year.
Further letters were sent last week outlining the options with the consultation and the agency said it will engage with stakeholders and communities.
The Belstead resident said the "additional road noise" to Belstead and Pinewood was also a "huge concern".
“It would make it no easier for us to join the A12 or A14 and no easier for us to get into Ipswich," she added. "Our area would take all of the impact in terms of noise and environmental damage but see no benefit from the scheme.”
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge has called on everybody to support the upgrades for the congested, Junction 55.
Mr Cartlidge did not back either of the options but said: “Beyond expressing a preference for a particular solution, our local area must present a united voice about the need for improvements.
"As highlighted in the South Suffolk Taskforce’s recent report, junction improvements are essential if our local economy is to make the most of the Freeport East opportunity."
Suffolk county councillor for Belstead Brook Christopher Hudson said the Copdock Interchange is currently a "highway to hell" that causes noise nuisance for Pinewood, Copdock, Sproughton and Belstead residents.
Mr Hudson said he would like to see a widened slip road but not any new lanes.
He was "confident" the A14 would get improvements but warned the consultation would be "lengthy".
Chair of Sproughton Parish Council Helen Davies said there are always problems at Copdock Interchange from roadworks and accidents on the A14 and A12 which "increases traffic" in the village.
She added. "It is hoped that during the work to update the junction any diversions do not come through the village and once implemented will relieve the pressure on the roads close by currently used as ‘rat runs’ while allowing traffic to flow freely [to Sproughton Enterprise Park and Felixstowe port]."
Adrian Rust, chairman of Pinewood Parish Council, said the plans needed to take into account upcoming developments in the area or planners would build something "out of date" before they start.
He said: "Personally, the through roads would only help the traffic to Felixstowe, they need to alter the roundabout as the building of Wolsey Grange, Wolsey Grange 2, the proposed distribution park behind Tesco's Copdock, all these are not going to help the roundabout, the Highways Agency has asked for the distribution park to not be looked at until March 2022 as all this traffic would affect the roundabout.
"If nothing is done to alter the actual roundabout, then all this traffic will have a large effect on the traffic entering or leaving Ipswich, They would need to alter the roundabout regardless of the relief roads or even better both."
National Highways will host four public information events, these will be held between November 6 and November 26.
These will be held at:
- Holiday Inn Ipswich, London Road - Saturday, November 6 11am-6pm
- Capel St Mary Village Hall - Friday, November 12 2pm-8pm
- Belstead Village Hall - Saturday, November 20 11am-6pm
- Copdock Village Hall - Friday, November 26 2pm-8pm
An online consultation will run until 11.59pm on Thursday, December 9.
James Goodman, National Highways project manager, said: "This consultation is intended for people who live, work and travel in and around the A14 Copdock Interchange to have their say on improvement proposals currently under consideration.
"We have had regular contact with landowners and local organisations, including key elected members of Suffolk County Council during our work on these proposals.
"A comprehensive online and in-person public consultation has now begun and we are encouraging people to give us their views on the proposals."