Planting of around 20,000 trees and shrubs is underway as part of advanced work being undertaken ahead of the start of the main improvements to the North Devon Link Road.
Devon County Council Chairman John Mathews was joined by North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones and Vice Lord-Lieutenant Lady Arran MBE DL in planting the first trees of the scheme.
The trees will be planted over a distance of 10km between Filleigh and Portmore, where work on widening the A361 is due to start in 2021. As the scheme progresses, further environmental compensation will be carried out throughout northern Devon to enable the scheme to achieve biodiversity net gain.
The planting at the side of the road will help establish ecological habitats ahead of the Link Road being widened, and it will also screen the road from surrounding areas.
Devon County Council Chairman John Mathews said: “We’re all aware how important trees are for our environment so this planting scheme is an extremely positive step. The plantings will have time to establish themselves before work is due to start in 2021 and this will help create new wildlife habitats. None of this work could be carried out without the co-operation of numerous local landowners and our thanks go to them.”
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Development and Waste, said: “Improvements to the Link Road are vital to the economy in northern Devon and it’s good to see progress continuing to be made. I’m sure everyone will welcome this next step of preparatory work for this scheme. With six new crossings of the A361 planned for pedestrians and cyclists, this scheme is also currently the County Council’s biggest investment in pedestrian and cycle provision.”
Peter Heaton-Jones MP said: “This is another important step forward in the ambitious scheme to deliver major improvements to the North Devon Link Road. We’ve achieved the biggest investment North Devon has seen in recent years, with more than £80 million from the government and £10 million from the County Council. The environmental aspects of this scheme are incredibly important, which is why I’m so pleased that an extensive tree-planting programme is now getting underway. This is a very significant day for North Devon and I’m delighted to be able to take part.”
Devon County Council is due to submit its full business case for the scheme to the DfT in summer 2020.
A range of surveys are being carried out on the road, and on land next to the road, throughout this year to enable the detailed design and further environmental mitigation to be undertaken ahead of the start of the main scheme work.
A planning application has been submitted for proposed improvements at Bishop’s Tawton roundabout. Bishop’s Tawton is one of seven junctions planned to be improved as part of the multi-million scheme to upgrade the A361 North Devon Link Road between South Molton and Bideford.
A planning application is also expected to be submitted later this year for a pedestrian and cycle bridge at the proposed Landkey roundabout.