The Secretary of State for Transport has today given the go-ahead for the dualling of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury. The Public Inquiry for the road scheme took place in Summer 2013 and the Secretary of State for Transport has now considered the Inquiry's report and published his decision.
The decision says that work could start as early as the autumn of this year, with main construction from Spring 2015 – up to a year earlier than previously thought possible.
"This is the news that everyone has been waiting for – Victory in our campaign to get the dualling of the A21 approved. May Day 2014 is a day for celebration for the whole community.
"Since the building of the new Pembury Hospital dualling the A21 has been my number one campaign, and I cannot begin to express my relief and delight at this news. From the outset it has been a total community effort – uniting residents, businesses, visitors and local councils.
"The A21 Reference Group we formed brought together every MP and every council on the A21 from Sevenoaks down to Hastings, as well as the local NHS Trust, to emphasise that this scheme is desperately needed for the whole of the region. The Group has worked tirelessly to campaign for the dualling over a number of years and I firmly believe that we would not have got to where we are without working together in this way.
"This stretch of road is notorious across the South East for its tailbacks, as well as being one of the worst accident blackspots in the country. There is not a single driver in Tunbridge Wells who has not been stuck in traffic on the A21 at Castle Hill.
"It has been a real battle to get to this momentous decision today. The campaign's first success was the highly unusual step of getting the public inquiry authorised even before funding was agreed found. Next we succeeded in landing the £92m of funding from the Treasury last year – a huge feat given the financial cutbacks. Then we gave robust evidence to the Public Inquiry last year.
"It's a huge bonus that work may begin later this year, and full construction next year. 2016 was previously considered the earliest starting date. But as with the Pembury Hospital, I will take nothing for granted until I see the bulldozers begin their work.
"We can now look forward with confidence to an end to constant traffic jams, appalling accidents and the pollution caused by idling engines.
"For my constituents, one of the big advantages will be a reduction in congestion on the A26 through Southborough and Tunbridge Wells as north-south traffic can reliably avoid the centre of town.
"It has been years of hard campaigning but we got there in the end!"
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