Battle lines are being drawn up over the dualling of the A47 between Wansford and Sutton, with landowner and protestor Robbie Reid stating: “I will be ‘Swampy 3’ if I have to – I’m determined that they get this right.”
Speaking from their double-decker ‘battle bus’ parked outside The Haycock Hotel in Wansford on Monday, protestors complained that Highways England - which had staff inside the hotel holding a public meeting - were not listening to the views of locals, or even using common sense.
Mick Grange, chairman of the Community Consultancy Team, said: “We don’t object to the dualling of the A47 - quite the opposite. But we want the proposed carriageway to run just a few meters further to the north of the route preferred by Highways England.
“This will save an ancient wood with many oak trees 300-400 years old, protect three separate bat roosts in nearby trees and nesting and breeding areas for both smooth and great crested newts, as well as multiple otter runs to the nearby River Nene.”
Mr Reid, who for the past 30 years has farmed land immediately south of the existing A47, stands to lose the most if the favoured proposal from Highways England is chosen as most of his acres would be compulsory purchased.
The protesters, collectively called ‘A47 – No to the southern alignment’, have even paid for archaeologist Professor Stephen Upex from the University of Cambridge to produce a report which disagrees with the majority of Historic England’s claims for the land.
Highways England is holding another meeting in St John’s Square on Saturday, from 11am to 5pm.
Mr Grange added: “Peterborough City Council have banned us from bringing our bus along. But that won’t stop us from being there to ensure the public get a fair and balanced view of the real issues.
“We are not a bunch of hippy tree-huggers with a grievance against a road across green land. We do want the A47 dualled. But we also want it in the right place.”
Preferred route for dualling
Highways England announced a consultation on its preferred route for the dualling of the road last month.
The option selected will see a new stretch of dual carriageway built around half a mile to the north of the existing A47 at the western end, before crossing to the south at the eastern end to join the existing dual carriageway at Nene Way.
There will also be a dedicated slip road from the A1 southbound to the A47 eastbound to alleviate congestion at the junction, while at the opposite end a new bridge will provide access to Sacrewell Farm. Another bridge will carry the A47 over the disused railway line west of Sutton Heath Road.
The new dual carriageway will continue along to the south of the existing road and connect in to an enlarged Nene Way roundabout near Sutton.
The consultation runs until 11.59pm on Monday, October, 29.