Bypass victory after 68 years

A 68-year wait came to an end for villagers in the North yesterday when the Government approved a long fought-for bypass.

A 68-year wait came to an end for villagers in the North yesterday when the Government approved a long fought-for bypass.

People in Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, have been campaigning for a bypass since before the Second World War because of the noise, danger and pollution caused by having the A69 - the main route from Newcastle to Carlisle - running through their community.

The campaigners were given an indication of success earlier this year when it was included on a list of transport projects the Government was preparing to fund in the North-East.

But yesterday's announcement by Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman that the scheme would finally go ahead sparked celebrations in the South Tyne Valley village.

Eileen Charlton, who has led the bypass campaign for 16 years, said: "I've just been down the street and everyone was stopping me to talk about it. Everyone's celebrating at last.

"It's going to be a vast improvement for Haydon Bridge to get shot of all that traffic.

"It will change the village so much for the better to get rid of that noise, dirt and danger."

The approval for the 1.8-mile bypass south of the village comes after a public inquiry earlier this year. It will remove up to 12,000 vehicles, including 1,800 lorries, from the village a day, and will include a new bridge over the river and the Newcastle to Carlisle rail line.

Mr Ladyman said: "This is good news for those who use this busy stretch of road and for the residents of Haydon Bridge, who will benefit from major improvements to their quality of life. The bypass will greatly reduce the number of trucks and cars travelling through the village, improving safety, helping to tackle congestion as well as reducing noise and air pollution."

The announcement was welcomed by Northumberland County Council leader Bill Brooks. He said: "We have lobbied long and hard for this improvement on the A69 and are delighted that the people of Haydon Bridge will now benefit from this improvement to the trunk road network. It was very difficult to make the case for the A69 and the A1 because of the many priorities within the region which scored higher on issues such as congestion and traffic volume.

"This has been subject to a public inquiry, but I am delighted that the needs of Tynedale have been recognised."

Work on the £25m bypass is expected to start next April and will take around two years.

It's been a long, gruelling, road

1938: Plans announced for a village bypass are first announced, only to be put on hold the next year when war breaks out.

1969: A new bridge is built over the River South Tyne to replace a historic stone structure - villagers are told it will only last 10 years.

1978: New bypass plans are put to villagers, a route selected and geological surveys carried out. But the incoming Tory Government fails to act on the plans.

1990: The A69 is privatised under a PFI scheme that includes the building of a bypass for nearby Haltwhistle, but nothing for Haydon Bridge.

2000: Villagers step up a new campaign for a bypass, stopping traffic on the busy cross-country road to make their point.

2001: The Highways Agency announces an investigation into the possibility of a bypass.

2002: Then transport secretary Alistair Darling gives the green light for a bypass which would open in 2009.

2003: Plans for the bypass route are shown for the first time in Haydon Bridge.

2004: A potential setback occurs when the Government calls for fresh consultation on the bypass.

2005: The scheme gets back on track with a public exhibition for villagers.

April 2006: Campaigners back the bypass plans at a public inquiry, though landowners object.

September 27, 2006: Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman gives formal approval for the bypass.

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