The consultation, which captured views on the reopening of the line, received over 1,000 responses and was carried out between October and December last year. Over 95 per cent of those responding supported the scheme, known as MetroWest Phase One, and 653 people visited the consultation exhibitions.
The re-opening of the Portishead branch line is a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) as it entails railway works of over 2km, outside Network Rail’s existing operational railway network.
As a result, North Somerset Council (on behalf of the other West of England authorities) is required to submit an application for planning consent, known as a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Government.
In order to submit a DCO, wide consultation with the local community, statutory bodies, landowners and other interested parties must have been completed. The publication of this document marks the final consultation stage in the scheme’s development process and is a significant step towards the submission of the DCO application later this year.
North Somerset Council is continuing to explore funding options for the £116m scheme which has included an expression of interest to the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund. This was made in conjunction with Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Councils in collaboration with the West of England Combined Authority.
The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP has also expressed his support for the scheme describing it as “a key priority for him.”
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s executive member with responsibility for transport said the council would continue to fight for funding for this vital project.
“Government ministers recognise that this is a nationally significant project that will benefit the West of England as a whole. They have shown their support.
“The publication of this consultation also shows the huge amount of continued public support for the scheme. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to make their views known which helped develop the scheme. This consultation exercise will form a key part of our application to the Government for a Development Consent Order later this year pending a funding decision which we are confident we will get.
“Portishead rail is still firmly on track.”
The consultation report can be viewed at www.travelwest.info/metrowest