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18:00 - 24 March 2005

Published on This is Essex.
Campaigners against a suggested new A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey have come up with their own suggestion - leave it where it is. The £220m new road, which could be ready by 2013, is intended to improve links between the north-east of the county and Stansted Airport.

Angered by the Highways Agency's refusal to suggest more than one route for the proposed new road, the Green Party thinks the best idea is to use the line of the existing road. They say it would be fine if it was turned into a dual carriageway and had by-passes around Bradwell and Marks Tey.

More than 50 people at a public meeting last week heard Green councillor James Abbott say the idea:

would eliminate through traffic in those villages

could be completed quicker

would destroy less countryside.

He also suspected that the Highways Agency might have another motive in mind for routing their proposed road through disused Rivenhall Airfield, which has been controversially designated a future major waste disposal site by Essex County Council.

He said: "The county council has been working with the Highways Agency to come up with this route, so we are very concerned that a new road through the airfield will be the trigger for a massive amount of industrial development there."

The proposed road would create two streams of traffic - one on the new and one on the old A120. The Agency admits it would also leave Bradwell and Marks Tey suffering from an estimated 12,400 vehicles a day.

The Green suggestion would mean by-passes would be built at the same time as the improvement to the existing A120, relieving the villages of through traffic.

Highways Agency spokeswoman Kelly Logan said all possible routes had been examined and the one which offered the most benefits economically and environmentally was chosen.

She said: "We still need feedback from the public so we can take on their comments. The southern route is not set in stone, but we believe it is the best for a number of reasons."

The campaigners have the backing of Braintree MP Alan Hurst, who said: "The Highway Agency's suggestion for a single route is like Henry Ford saying his cars were available in any colour you liked - so long as it was black."

He hoped something positive would come out of the public consultation period, which ends in June.