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Milestone For M6 Link Road

14 March 2012

The proposed Heysham to M6 Link Road Scheme in Lancashire has reached a significant milestone after the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) formally accepted an application for the Scheme to be examined.

Costain is engaged on the Scheme in an early contractor involvement arrangement on behalf of Lancashire County Council. The £123 million Scheme includes a 4.8km stretch of dual carriageway running from the A589 between Lancaster and Morecambe, to an upgraded Junction 34 on the M6 and includes a new bridge over the River Lune.

The examination process, which will take six months, is due to begin in late March. At the end of the examination period, the IPC has three months to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State who will then make a final decision on whether to approve the Scheme. If approved, construction on the Scheme is scheduled to start in summer 2013.

The project team includes Lancashire County Council, Costain, Jacobs and law firm Bircham Dyson Bell. All parties were involved in the application, which also notched up three firsts for the project:

• The first application for a highway scheme
• The first application made by a local authority
• The first to be accepted in less than three weeks

County Councillor Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The M6 Link is more than just a road - it will be an engine for economic growth for the whole of the region and we're very pleased that we have been given the go-ahead to move on to the next stage.”

Since March 2010, it has been a legal requirement that all Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) receive consent from the IPC. A project is deemed to be nationally significant if it meets certain criteria, in this case the alteration of the slip roads to the M6 motorway.

The IPC is due to become part of the Planning Inspectorate in April 2012 but all applications with respect to nationally strategic or major infrastructure projects will remain unchanged.

Under the Planning Act 2008, other local authority highway schemes may be considered nationally significant and will therefore have to go through the same process. As a result, the Heysham team is now sharing what it has learnt from the new planning process with other highway schemes.

“This is a major achievement for the whole Heysham to M6 Link team as the approval process is extremely rigorous and it’s no surprise that there have only been 13 applications to the IPC in nearly 18 months. We have proved the advantages of a totally integrated team approach to delivery of an application on this major highway scheme,” said Andrew Langley, Costain Project Manager.