Ground Engineering:

Campaigners refused legal hearing on A428 Black Cat road scheme

The Transport Action Network (TAN) has been refused permission for a full hearing later this year to challenge the government’s decision to approve the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet road scheme.
The UK Government gave the green for National Highways’ A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet scheme to build a new dual carriageway in August 2022.

Then transport secretary Grant Shapps approved a development consent order (DCO) to upgrade the route between the A1 Black Cat roundabout and A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout near St Neots in Cambridgeshire.

The Transport Action Network (TAN), however, submitted an application to the High Court for permission for a judicial review of Shapps’ decision on the grounds of biodiversity, need for the scheme and climate change.

TAN claims that the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet scheme is the third biggest carbon emitting scheme in the current roads programme (RIS2).

A judge at the High Court reviewed the application and earlier this year refused it permission for a judicial review on all three grounds.

TAN then requested permission for a judicial review to be heard at a High Court oral hearing.

At the High Court on 30 March, TAN was given the opportunity to argue its case for a full hearing later this year, but it has been refused permission.

National Highways project director for the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements Lee Galloway said: “We welcome the decision by the High Court. This is positive news and moves us a step closer to delivering the much needed and wanted A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements.

“The scheme will help transform the region, improving journeys between Milton Keynes, Bedford, St Neots and Cambridge by bringing communities together and supporting long term regional growth. We are now discussing the outcome with our legal team and will provide a further update soon.”

In its April newsletter, TAN said that it was “currently considering [its] options”.

The National Highways scheme will build a new 16km dual carriageway and introduce numerous junction improvements. The new road will fill in the missing link of dual carriageway on the strategic road network between Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

A new three-level grade separated junction at the Black Cat roundabout will include the A1 at the lower level, the new dual carriageway on the upper level, and a roundabout between the two.

A new grade separated junction to the east of the existing Cambridge Road roundabout will provide access to the new dual carriageway and maintain access to the existing A428.

At the Caxton Gibbet roundabout, a new grade separated junction will incorporate the existing roundabout on the south side of the new dual carriageway. The new dual carriageway would then tie in to the existing A428 dual carriageway to the east of the new Caxton Gibbet

The upgrade will also involve the replacement of the Roxton Road bridge with a new structure to the west to accommodate the realigned A421.

In addition, new crossings will be constructed to enable the new dual carriageway to cross the River Great Ouse, East Coast Main Line railway, Barford Road, the B1046/Potton Road, Toseland Road and the existing A428 at Eltisley.

Aecom was appointed as the delivery partner for professional design and engineering services on the project in 2017. It has carried out ecological surveying for the A428 upgrade, which formed part of the planning application.

Construction was due to start at the end of 2022, with the road opening in 2026 – but these dates have been pushed back because of the legal challenge. Last estimates put the cost of the scheme between £810M to £950M.


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