1. Introduction 1.1 Background to Scheme 1.2 Purpose of the Non-technical Summary

1. Introduction

1.1 Background to Scheme

The A68 trunk road is one of the main transport routes extending southwards from the outskirts of Edinburgh to Darlington, passing through Midlothian, the Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne. The Scottish section is approximately 95 km in length. The A68 is largely a two-lane single carriageway and carries long-distance traffic from the North East of England through the Scottish Borders to Edinburgh as an alternative to the A1. Various communities along the route rely on the A68 for communication and transport needs.

A Route Action Plan (RAP) for the A68 trunk road was completed by the Scottish Borders Council in 1996, on behalf of the Scottish Executive. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential for improvement of this trunk road in order to improve opportunities for overtaking, preventing traffic delays and frustration to drivers. Potential areas of improvement were subsequently identified in a Firm Strategy Report (FSR) produced in 1997. These RAPs identified sections of the trunk road where improvements could be made that would be the most effective and most enhancing.

These RAPs were also developed for other trunk road networks within Scotland, which then led to a review of these reports being completed by the Scottish Executive and an announcement was made in March 2003 that ten new road improvement schemes would be developed across Scotland. Two of these schemes arose from the A68 RAP, of which the A68 Soutra South to Oxton Road Improvement Scheme was one.

In August 2003, a team of transport and environmental consultants (Mouchel Parkman (MP; now Mouchel), Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Young Associates (Environmental Consultants) Ltd. (YA; now AMEC Earth and Environmental (UK) Ltd. (AMEC)) and SIAS) were commissioned to complete initial investigation, assessment and design of road improvement options. These options were then reviewed in line with current requirements (through completion of a Stage 1 (Route corridor study) and Stage 2 (identification of route options) Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) Assessment) and consulted upon, resulting with the selection, by the Scottish Executive (now Transport Scotland (TS)) of a preferred scheme. The preferred scheme (as presented here) has then been subjected to more consultation and further detailed assessment (Stage 3) in order to meet with current legislative requirements.

For the more detailed Stage 3 assessment, TS confirmed that due to environmental interests within the preferred scheme extents, a formal Environmental Statement (ES) would need to be completed to meet with the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1999. AMEC, as Environmental Co-ordinator, has therefore undertaken the completion of an ES. The purpose of the ES is to inform the public, relevant Governmental and non-Governmental bodies and the Scottish Ministers of the likely environmental effects of the proposed scheme. The ES includes information on the development of the scheme design and the route selection process, the relevant planning background and the existing environmental conditions along the proposed route. The ES also presents the results of specific studies and consultations undertaken to assess the potential environmental effects of the proposal, both negative and positive, and the measures that will be implemented to ensure that the potential negative impacts are avoided or minimised.

1.2 Purpose of the Non-technical Summary

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposed scheme has been completed and an Environmental Statement (ES) has been published under Section 55A of the Roads (Scotland) Act (1984), as amended by Part III of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations (1999). The results of the EIA are fully published in the ES allowing all interested parties an opportunity to review the assessment and the proposed scheme. A public consultation period of 6 weeks follows the date of publication of the draft Road Orders and the accompanying ES to enable interested parties to present their views or comments to the Scottish Ministers before a decision is made.

This short report constitutes the non-technical summary (NTS) of the ES, which summarises the environmental impacts and presents the main findings in an easily understandable form using non-technical language. The information contained in the NTS is divided into four chapters; Chapter 1 comprises an introduction, Chapter 2 provides an overview of the proposed road scheme, while Chapter 3 contains a summary of the key issues arising from the ES process, focusing on the significance of the effects of the scheme and the main mitigation proposals, with Chapter 4 presenting the conclusions. As well as this separate report, the NTS is also bound into the front of the ES.

Copies of the Environmental Statement are available for viewing by the public and are on display at the following locations:

Transport Scotland
Major Transport Infrastructure Projects
Buchanan House
58 Port Dundas Road

Scottish Borders Council
Technical Services
Newton St Boswells

Leader Leisure Centre & Lauder Library
Old Causeway
East High Street

The publication of the ES and draft Road Orders will be followed by a 6 week period (3 week period for the Compulsory Purchase Order) during which any person wishing to make representation regarding the proposed draft Orders and / or the ES should lodge it in writing to the following address:

Director MTRIPS
Transport Scotland
Major Transport Infrastructure Projects
Buchanan House
58 Port Dundas Road
G4 0HF

Electronic copies of the ES and the NTS are available for download at http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk. Printed copies of the ES will be available following publication at a cost of £50.00 from the above address. The ES will also be available in CD format at a cost of £10.00 each.