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Shapps backs M25 interchange development consent order

Words: Huw Morris

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has approved National Highways’ application for a development consent order (DCO) to upgrade an interchange between the M25 and A3 at Wisley in Surrey after repeatedly seeking more information about the scheme.

Shapps was due to decided the DCO in January 2021, but consulted further on the application three times, requesting more information on the project’s environmental impact, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the need for the upgrade and “the question of appropriate provision of replacement land to compensate for the proposed special category land to be compulsorily purchased” under the DCO.

National Highways had argued that the Wisley interchange is one of the busiest sections of the Strategic Road Network, with junction 10’s journey time reliability “particularly poor” as well as a high accident rate. It warned these issues will increase over the next 20 years with predicted housing and economic growth in the area.

The £250 million scheme involves building four dedicated free-flowing slip lanes allowing all left-turning traffic to pass through the junction unimpeded by traffic signals. Carriageways on the roundabout will be elongated and widened to increase capacity for right-turning traffic, while hard shoulders through the junction on the M25 will be converted to running lanes with emergency refuge areas.

National Highways also plans to widen the A3 to four lanes in each direction between the Ockham Park and Painshill junctions.

The agency maintained that the development’s net carbon emissions would equate to 0.0009 per cent of the UK's fourth carbon budget period, 0.0010 per cent of the fifth carbon budget period, and 0.0018 per cent of the sixth carbon budget period. 

However, it said this assessment is “conservative and likely an overestimate” as the projected uptake of new electric vehicles is higher than the projections used in the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs’s emissions factor toolkit.

Although Shapps noted the scheme’s harm to the green belt, this would be outweighed by the “very special circumstances” of the scheme’s considerable benefits.

Image credit | Grant Shapps by UK Parliament is licensed under CC BY 3.0