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Objections to M25 Downside service station tunnel overturned
Another hurdle to construction of a motorway service station area has been removed after ministers threw out the remaining objections.
Surrey County Councillor John Butcher claimed there were unanswered questions about an underground tunnel and slip lane from the service station in Downside to the M25.
But his Conservative colleagues transport secretary Philip Hammond MP and local government secretary Eric Pickles MP set aside his objections today and gave the go ahead to the traffic order.
They also rejected calls for a local inquiry into the roadworks which will connect the motorway to the petrol station, hotel, shops and 721 car parking spaces.
Coun Butcher said: "I am disappointed that my objections have not been supported. I haven't yet read the detailed argument.
"It may well be I have overlooked things that do justify the fact the ministers have made the decision they made."
He said: "I can't question the original decision that was made more than five years ago but I do believe there are a number of aspects to the more recent decision which are most unsatisfactory and I'm waiting to see the detail."
Extra Motorway Services, formerly Swayfields until it went into administration, were unavailable for comment as the decision was announced.
In a letter from the Government Office for the South East, regional director Colin Bryne, said: "They [ministers] have decided that they remain satisfied that the nature and weight of these objections are such that a local inquiry is unlikely to produce any significant new information relevant to their decision, and that these objections do not raise issues of such public importance that they should be debated at a local inquiry."
He also said: "The Secretaries of State are satisfied that the construction programme has been developed to minimise as far as reasonably practicable the disruption to traffic and the general public, whilst allowing the construction works to be completed safely and efficiently."
The decision by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in October 2005 to allow a service station was greeted with dismay after a a decade of campaigns and planning inquiries by campaigners in Cobham.
He overturned concerns about the fact the farmland sold by the owners of the New Barn Farm was in Greenbelt pointing to the need for more service stations on the motorway for safety reasons.
Elmbridge Borough Council dropped its own objection to the traffic orders after councillors voted 29 to 9 in favour of withdrawing its opposition.
There will be a 50mph speed limit on the M25 while the roadworks take place.
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