Balfour’s £250m M25 junction upgrade gets go-ahead after planning hold-up

A joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Atkins will finally be able to begin work on the planned upgrade of an interchange where the M25 meets the A3 in Surrey.

The scheme, worth between £100m and £250m, has been given the go-ahead some 16 months after transport secretary Grant Shapps was originally due to rule on the application.

Shapps was set to rule on the development consent order (DCO) application in January 2021, but he extended the deadline on three occasions to “consult further on the application”.

In particular, he wanted more information on the environmental impact of the scheme and the effect of COVID-19 on the need for the upgrade, as well as the “question of appropriate provision of replacement land to compensate for the proposed special category land to be compulsorily purchased under the DCO”.

Having assessed the additional information, Shapps has now granted the application.

The scheme involves building four dedicated free-flowing slip lanes, which will allow all left-turning traffic to pass through the junction unimpeded by traffic signals.

Carriageways on the existing roundabout will also be elongated and widened to increase capacity for right-turning traffic.

On the M25, the hard shoulders through the junction will be converted into running lanes with emergency refuge areas.

National Highways also plans to widen the A3 to four lanes in each direction between the Ockham Park junction and the Painshill junction, except where the A3 crosses over junction 10, which will remain as two lanes in both directions.

The upgrade has long been opposed by campaign group RHS Wisley on environmental grounds.

A statement on RHS’s website reads: “The impact of Highways England’s [now National Highways] proposals would place 44 trees along our boundary with the A3 at risk. The plans being signed off by the secretary of state would see 17 Grade II Heritage Trees being cut down.

“They would also see 27 trees, including North American redwood species (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and five Grade II Heritage Trees, being at risk because the development could adversely affect the health of the trees by undermining root strength.

“Anyone who has seen these magnificent trees in person will tell you of the awe that they bring. We need your voice to ensure we can protect these beautiful trees.”

National Highways claims the upgrade will “reduce congestion, smooth the flow of traffic to improve journey times, support economic growth and new housing within the area, [and] improve safety”.

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