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A1 Morpeth-Ellingham decision delayed yet another nine months

5 Sep 23 The deadline for the A1 Morpeth to Ellingham development consent order has been extended for a fourth time.

The secretary of state for transport received the examining authority’s report on the A1 in Northumberland – Morpeth to Ellingham development consent order application on 5th October 2021. 

The original deadline for a decision was 5th January 2022 but has now been deferred four times – firstly to 5th June 2022, then 5th December 2022, then 5th September  2023 and now 5th June 2024. That's 29 months late, in total.

The proposed development comprises the widening of 12.8 miles stretch of the A1 between Morpeth to Ellingham, with 9 miles online widening and 3.8 miles of new offline highway.

Costain is the designated contractor for the project, which was at one time costed at £260m. National Highways' website now just gives cost, start date and completion as 'TBC'.

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The delay at the Department of Transport is blamed on more time being needed to consider Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review, published in November 2021, which recommended a multimodal study of the East Coast Corridor to identify the best opportunities for improvement.

The transport secretary that was in post when the examining authority’s report was originally submitted back in October 2021 was Grant Shapps.  Anne-Marie Trevelyan succeeded him as transport secretary on 6th September 2022 but was then replaced by Mark Harper on 25th October 2022, who by current standards must be considered long-serving.

Grant Shapps has had four different cabinet posts since leaving transport a year ago: home secretary (for a week); secretary of state for business, energy & industrial strategy; secretary of state for energy security & net zero; and now, as of 31st August 2023, defence secretary.

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