Babergh and Mid Suffolk Councils urge National Highways to ‘unblock Copdock’ following proposed improvements to the A14 junction 55
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have submitted a joint response to proposed improvements to the A14 junction 55 Copdock Interchange, urging the creation of a new link road to keep business traffic flowing freely.
National Highways sought feedback on two options, either improving flow by widening the existing carriageway and introducing left turn lanes, or reducing traffic by building a new link road for those travelling between the A12 (south) and A14 (east).
In response to the options, the councils have backed the new link road and have said it is the best way of tackling existing congestion and ensuring movement of goods from Freeport East.
They say this will "help to ensure national, regional, and local economic prosperity and delivering the greatest benefits to the districts’ communities and businesses."
The council also considered the environmental impact of the plans and urged National Highways to ensure proposals address noise, light and air quality impacts and align with Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils’ Biodiversity Action Plan – protecting and strengthening plant life and local wildlife in the districts.
Cllr Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for Planning, said: “The efficient operation of the Copdock Interchange is key to ensuring the flow of goods and services is maintained across our region.
"Unimpeded traffic movement between Felixstowe and the London/South East region is essential for the prosperity of Suffolk and would allow us to take a further step towards an integrated sea, road and rail infrastructure network.
“In the meantime, any improvement to the junction that stops traffic taking alternative routes via Old London Road and London Road, and the villages south of the A14, will improve the quality of life of our residents in those areas.”
Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for Planning, said: “We have worked closely with National Highways in preparing our Joint Local Plan and we recognise the Copdock Interchange as critical infrastructure for our districts.
"There is a clear need to focus on improvements to the A12 and A14 and the junction is also a key issue identified in Suffolk County Council’s Local Transport Plan.
“However, any development proposals will also need to adequately address the environmental impact on local residents, and we welcome further discussions to explore opportunities to secure benefits for our communities.”
A statement from the Green Party, who oppose both suggested options for the development of the junction, said: "Post COP26 any road development plans should look at ways of reducing road use rather than increasing it, and should also be a part of a holistic approach to transport development that includes greener options and including greater infrastructure for public transport, including improved facilities for walkers and cyclists.
"Both plans in the J55 consultation will increase road noise and pollution and carbon emissions, further encroach on green spaces and include the loss of natural habitat and species therein including an ancient oak.
"The need is for better directed investment for freight rail services and facilities to manage the traffic generated by trade via Felixstowe Port, which would reduce the burden on the road network. Either scheme will encourage and incentivise extra traffic onto the roads in contradiction to the government’s and Suffolk Councils' own Climate Change Plan to reduce car journeys in the county.
"The J55 options fail to address the challenges to the environment so clearly outlined in Cop 26 and make Babergh, Mid-Suffolk and the county councils less likely to achieve their goal of zero carbon by 2030. They seem to be based on transport ideas rooted firmly in the past, rather than looking to the future."
Jane Gould, the Green councillor representing Belstead, said: "The consultation brochure states that Option 4 'is likely to have a greater impact on land use and access (for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, farmers) and that this will only be mitigated where practical'. We believe existing footpaths will have to be cut off if Option 4 goes ahead.
"There is no firm commitment in these proposals for providing, funding and maintaining alternative rights of way that take people to the same destinations. Yet improving rather than just replacing such routes should be the priority."
National Highways is now collating and analysing responses before producing a consultation report and presenting its chosen option to the Department for Transport for consideration for funding.