Kex Gill: Call for inquiry over £60m route for landslide-hit road between Harrogate and Skipton rejected

A major project to build a new route for a landslide-prone road linking Harrogate and Skipton has overcome another hurdle after the government refused to call in the plans for an inquiry.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 4:01 pm
Works to repair a landslip at Kex Gill in 2018.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last week pledged £56m to overhaul the Kex Gill section of the A59 which has caused high maintenance costs, delayed journeys and unsafe driving conditions during several landslides.

The re-route plans - which will see a new carriageway constructed so traffic will no longer need to use the existing road - were subject to a call in request by minerals company Sibelco which argued the new road would threaten the viability of mineral deposits at the nearby Blubberhouse Moor Estate.

The company urged Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick to scrutinise the scheme, however, by declining the request, plans to begin the work in summer can now continue.

North Yorkshire County Council will oversee the project and provide about £4m plus any overspends towards the £60m project.

The authority's executive member for access, councillor Don Mackenzie, said: "The decision by the Secretary of State is very good news indeed, leaving the way open to the commencement of this important scheme.

"The A59 at Kex Gill has been subject to closures in the recent past because of land slips, which have disrupted travel, caused long diversions through West Yorkshire, and have been costly. The realignment of this trans-Pennine route provides much better connectivity for all road users and is a major boost to the economy of North Yorkshire.”

The stretch of road between Harrogate and Skipton is a key east-west link for North Yorkshire.

Where it runs through Blubberhouses Moor, the road has been hit by regular landslides - most recently in 2018 - which can result in closures and diversions through other North Yorkshire towns and villages.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, who represents the Pateley Bridge ward, said the A59 was a "vitally important cross-country road" and that the re-route will "greatly enhance journey safety and reliability".

He said: “The announcements this week signify two milestones in the delivery of the long-anticipated scheme. Locals, commuters and visitors will all benefit from enhanced safety and reliability of the important trans-Pennine route. We are looking forward to seeing work begin soon.”

Sibelco declined to comment on the government's refusal to call in the plans.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter