Transport secretary Grant Shapps was supposed to have made a decision on whether to give development consent or scrap the £250m scheme by yesterday, three months after the Planning Inspectorate submitted its report.
However, the deadline for the decision has now been extended by four months until 12th May 2021. This it give the secretary of state time to consult further. Controversy focuses on the land to be compulsorily purchased under the development consent order and the provision of replacement land to compensate.
Balfour Beatty Atkins Joint Venture was awarded a contract last year on an early contractor involvement basis. It has been working on the detailed design and doing more surveys since then. According to Glenigan, that contract is worth £335m to Balfour Beatty alone. This seems unlikely, given that Highways England estimates the total project cost (including very expensive land acquisition) is between £100m and £250m.
The project would improve the intersection of the M25 and the A3 – the Wisley interchange – to the southwest of London. Scope of works includes building four new dedicated free-flowing slip lanes that will mean all left-turning traffic can pass through the junction unimpeded by traffic signals. Carriageways on the existing roundabout would also be elongated and widened to increase capacity for right-turning traffic. On the M25 the hard shoulders through the junction will be converted to running lanes with emergency refuge areas.
Highways England says: “Until we receive the secretary of state’s decision we will be carrying on with the detailed design and planning how to build the scheme.”