Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 15:38 UK

Relief road land buying approved

Weymouth aerial picture (Dorset For You website)
Campaigners lost a High Court battle to block the road last year

The government has given Dorset County Council the go-ahead to buy land to build a controversial relief road through protected countryside.

The council said compulsory purchase orders for the road between Weymouth and Dorchester had been approved.

Work is set to begin in spring 2009 subject to the finance being approved.

Environmental groups lost a High Court legal challenge last year to stop the route, which goes through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Delia McLaggan, who faces a compulsory purchase order on part of her Lorton House land, said: "It is in no way a Weymouth relief road, but a Littlemoor junction relief road.

"Use part of the 18m promised to Weymouth to ease traffic congestion, to put a roundabout here [at the Littlemoor junction] instead of the obstructive traffic lights, and the problem would be solved."

An overwhelming number of local people support the relief road
Harry Burden, county councillor

The Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government approved the council's compulsory purchase orders following a public inquiry, which ended in March.

Angus Campbell, county council leader, said: "This is great news that has brought us one step closer to building the long awaited relief road."

The orders cover 138 hectares (0.5 sq miles) needed for the new road, including designated land for nature conservation, the council said.

Harry Burden, county councillor for the Broadwey ward, said: "An overwhelming number of local people support the relief road and I'm sure they will be pleased to hear that work could be starting soon."

Ancient woodland

Campaigners, including Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Transport 2000, claimed the route will cut through the legally protected countryside and affect the ancient woodland and a nature reserve.

But the judge refused permission for a judicial review of Dorset County Council's decision to grant itself permission for the 84.5m project.

Archaeology work is set to start in October on the site where the road will be built.

An area of the Ridgeway was fenced off on Wednesday in preparation for the 50,000 sq-m excavation of the area.

Archaeologists will recover and record anything found which is of historical importance.

The new road to Weymouth and Portland will provide extra access before the area hosts the 2012 Olympic sailing events.

Mr Campbell said the council had submitted its final business case for the project to the Department for Transport and was waiting for approval.

A series of exhibitions will be held held in Weymouth and Dorchester in October, during which contractors Skanska will be on hand to answer questions.

Relief road excavation to start
24 Sep 08 |  Dorset
High court approves relief road
15 Aug 07 |  Dorset
Relief road wins final approval
18 Apr 07 |  Dorset

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