A campaign group is calling for a public inquiry into Ely’s contentious southern bypass plans - insisting the road will “inflict immeasurable damage” on the city’s cathedral.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has lodged a formal objection to the £30 million scheme and is calling for a public inquiry to be held.
A public inquiry could only be called in by the Planning Inspectorate.
But Michael Monk, CPRE chairman, said: “The proposed scheme would inflict immeasurable damage on Ely Cathedral but I am also deeply disappointed the county council has not given higher priority to other opportunities for dealing with the A142 congestion.
“More should be done to discourage heavy commercial vehicles from using the A142 as a short cut to the midlands. Such vehicles should be encouraged to the use A14 which, when it is upgraded, should prove an attractive route.”
Mr Monk says the bypass plans also fail to meet the requirements under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for sustainable development.
He said: “The NPPF states that the environmental dimension is crucial. The bypass will in no way comply with this requirement.
“The Ship of the Fens has been one of Cambridgeshire’s most loved features for 800 years and should not be sacrificed.”
The bypass plans have been in the pipeline for more than a decade but were formally submitted by the county council last month.
Cllr Ian Bates, cabinet member for growth and planning, said: “We have developed what we believe is the most effective solution to deal with chronic congestion which is caused by the level crossing at Ely Railway Station.
“Extensive research tells us ideas such as a deeper underpass would give fewer benefits than a bypass, carry far greater risks and would not solve the problems of pollution and traffic.
“We have done all we can through the planning process to mitigate the impact of the proposed road on the landscape.
“Ultimately we all must remember this project has been brought forward in response to the demands of the vast majority of residents to do something and we are determined to not let them down.”