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November 16, 2022

UK’s Portishead rail line restoration plan secures approval

Plans to restore the track was initially set at £116.4m but later rose to £152m.

The plan to rebuild the abandoned Portishead to Bristol line in the UK has received development consent from the state secretary for transport Mark Harper.    

This planning application was submitted to The Planning Inspectorate for consideration by North Somerset Council in November 2019. It was accepted for examination a month later, with the Planning Inspectorate recommending the project’s clearance in July last year.

The Portishead track was shuttered in 1964. Plans to restore the track were initially set at £116.4m.

However, the cost of the project increased to £152m, creating a funding gap of £35.6m.

To help plug this gap, The West of England Combined Authority provided a further £10m, North Somerset Council offered an additional £10m and the Department for Transport the balance £15.6m.

The rise in the project’s costs was driven by delays in the approval of the Development Consent Order (DCo).

Global rise in energy, labour and construction materials costs also led to an increase in the project’s expenses. 

The reopening of the line, which forms part of the MetroWest Phase 1 project, is anticipated by 2026.

Planning Inspectorate interim CEO Navees Rahman said: “The Planning Inspectorate has now examined more than 100 nationally significant infrastructure projects since the Planning Act 2008 process was introduced, ensuring local communities, the local authority and other interested parties have had the opportunity of being involved in the examination of projects that may affect them.

“The Examining Authority listened and gave full consideration to all local views and the evidence gathered during the Examination before making its recommendation to the Secretary of State.”

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