We have expected a weighty tome detailing the widening of the A21 in Kent for some time now. To be a little more precise I should probably say ‘waiting in trepidation’. Why? – because a single carriage way road flanked closely with ancient woodland is not going to mix well with a road widening scheme.
The widening of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury has been on the cards for years – in fact ever since I started at the Woodland Trust four years ago it has been expected. One of the reasons it has taken so long to rear its ugly head is its hideously large environmental impact and the problems in justifying this. However with the downturn in the economy the Highways Agency has found a great way of ‘kick starting the economy’ by pumping 6 billion into England’s road network and pushing forward lots of nice and environmentally destructive ‘road improvement schemes’.
So when there was finally notification that the environmental impact assessment had finally been published I did a cursory check of the environmental impact assessment and was not surprised to see that there is expected to be around 9 hectares (22 acres) of ancient woodland loss some of which is part of the RSPB’s Tudeley Wood Reserve. The next job is thoroughly go through the EIA and work out the exact impacts on the woodland and see what mitigation is being put forward by the Highways Agency (probably worth noting quickly that ancient woodland is irreplaceable so once it is gone not a right lot you can do).
The thing is that I know what a terrible stretch of road it is there – many times have I been stuck in a jam as the dual carriage way shrinks to one lane. I can almost guarantee that most that live locally are desperately waiting for this stretch of road improvements but at what cost?
So in some ways the words of AC/DC fit the situation quite well:
I’m on the highway to hell
No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
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