Highways Agency Press Release
17 November 1998 NB348/98


The £104 million Newbury Bypass was today opened by Highways Agency Chief Executive, Lawrie Haynes.

Construction of the 8.5 mile (13.5 kilometre) road was completed within its 26 month contract and within budget.

The total cost, over and above the tender price of £74 million (plus a standard ten per cent contingency for civil engineering projects) is as a direct result of protest action.

During the first quarter of 1996, the site for the route was cleared of protestors who had set up tree-houses, tunnels and camps. More than 600 security guards were used during this time to protect contractors and assist the Under Sheriff of Berkshire in evicting the protestors.

Security guards, though steadily reduced in number to less than 20, were also present throughout the construction of the bypass and 50 kilometres of security fencing was erected to protect the health and safety of the workforce, plant, offices and equipment.

The total cost of both security guards and security fencing throughout the initial site clearance and main work is £30 million. Within the original tender price, £7 million was allocated for security.

Highways Agency Chief Executive, Lawrie Haynes said today:

The taxpayer has had a high price to pay due to the anti-bypass campaign that has, at times, involved illegal activity. The security measures were regrettable but necessary to allow the project to progress on programme, and to ensure the safety of the workforce. The security measures are still considered value for money as they have prevented damage and disruption, and brought the benefits of the bypass on time.

Considering the civil engineering complexities and unexpected difficulties experienced, the bypass should be considered a source of pride to those who have worked on it and those who will use it. We estimate that it will remove 20,000 vehicles a day from Newbury and save 28 lives over the next 30 years.

Great efforts have been taken throughout design and construction to provide value for money, minimise disruption. For example, wide recycling of materials on site reduced lorry movements to import and export material by 250,000 – a major environmental benefit.

Also, the bypass has been given one of the most extensive environmental considerations of any highway in the country. These include planting nearly 200,000 trees and shrubs, providing new wetland habitats for the rare Desmoulin’s Whorl snail and relocating dormice, snails, bats, slow-worms, voles and badgers.”

Mr Haynes hosted a ceremony to mark the opening of the bypass. This included a ribbon cutting, followed by a ‘run’ along the route and speeches at Newbury Racecourse. Guests included the Mayor of Newbury and other local dignitaries, Sir George Young and David Rendel MP.

Notes to Editors

  1. Motorists are warned to drive carefully along the bypass for the first few days as the new road surface will take time to settle in and may be slightly slippery

  2. The Highways Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions which manages, maintains and improves the network of trunk roads and motorways in England on behalf of the Secretary of State. It works closely with other transport operators and with local authorities to integrate the trunk road network with the rest of England's roads and other forms of travel.

Issued on behalf of the Highways Agency by COI West Midlands. Telephone: 0121 626 2040/2020 or facsimile: 0121 626 3366.