30 hectares of land to be bought by council as Kex Gill reroute moves forward
A move to enable the compulsory purchase of more than 30 hectares of land -some of which contains pristine, protected areas of natural landscape - to create a vital new section of road between Harrogate and Skipton has been green lit.
North Yorkshire's executive approved powers enabling them to buy 33.22 hectares of mostly agricultural field earlier this month, which will enable work to move forward on re-routing the A59 at Kex Gill.
The section of road serves as a vital trans-Pennine route between Skipton and Harrogate, but its long history of instability and landslips west of the village of Blubberhouses has led to the county's plans to reroute it.
The compulsory purchase orders will cover properties owned by 25 different landowners, and means the authority will move on with a planning application for the project.
A council report on the matter says the authority will look to negotiate the willing purchase of the land before resorting to compulsory purchases.
Talking at the meeting, executive member for access Don Mackenzie said the move to reroute the road was "overwhelmingly" supported by the public, who had grown frustrated by frequent closures to address landslips and stability issues.
"Overwhelmingly, these (public drop-in sessions) events were extremely positive, everyone is agreed that we are doing the right thing," he said.
He also addressed the "extremely sensitive" nature of a portion of the land to be developed - equating to about 0.42 hectares - saying the authority had undertaken extensive work to assess the site.
"I would like to reassure that our officers and experts we have brought in on this have done a remarkably thorough survey of the area and we're now ready to proceed with this," he said.
The current Kex Gill route passes through landscape designated as the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), although 95 per cent of the land to be purchased is classified as agricultural land, moorland, and woodland.
According to a report on the matter by the council, a team of environmental specialists have been involved in the final design in a bid to minimise "as far as possible" the impact on the local environment.
Part of the mitigation exercises undertaken by the council will see a portion of the existing A59 returned to natural landscape.
The council will now press forward to submit a planning application by the end of October, following the completion of detailed Environmental Impact Assessments being prepared.
Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter