ENGINEERS have started to build a farm access road on the battleground of the much mooted eastern Hereford bypass route.

The eastern route has been continuously ruled out by Herefordshire Council’s current administration due to the environmental constraints posed by the Lugg and Hampton Meadows site of special scientific interest - yet the entrance to the new access road to Court Farm in Hampton Bishop is just yards away from it.

The council granted planning permission last April for the new road scheme which will link the anaerobic digester at the Hampton Bishop farm with the A438 Ledbury Road.

Planners imposed conditions on the road which included a 20km per hour speed limit to prevent disturbance to curlew and fatalities to otters, as well as preventing damage to the interest features of Lugg and Hampton Meadows.

Applicant Nick Layton asked for permission to build the road to allow delivery of feedstocks to and digestate removal from the anaerobic digestion plant.

The idea is that the new access route will also alleviate traffic congestion on the local road network.

Deborah Cairns, who wrote the plan’s access and design statement, said: “As the majority of feedstock deliveries and anaerobic digestion associated movements travel to and from the Ledbury direction it will significantly reduce the need to use Eign Road as a main delivery route.

“This runs through the city centre and can become congested under heavy levels of traffic.”

Natural England did not object to the plans despite its proximity to the SSSI providing they met their conditions.

Planning advisor Gillian Driver said: “Given the nature and scale of this proposal, Natural England is satisfied that there is not likely to be an adverse effect on this site as a result of the proposal being carried out in strict accordance with the details of the application as submitted and subject to the conditions.”

Historic England representatives said the scheme would not impact on the nearby ancient ring ditches monument but asked for the hedge lines to be enhanced across the road’s route as it crosses the historic Lugg Valley landscape.