Creating 180,000 square metres of new woodland, preserving a listed barn and protecting wildlife are among the activities that are taking place.
A 2.5 mile section of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury in Kent is being upgraded from single to dual carriageway, adding a lane in each direction, upgrading junctions and improving the road layout. The £70m road scheme will make journeys on the A21 safer, faster and more reliable and will deliver an eightfold return on investment for the economy.
Highways England Project Manager Anne-Marie Palmer said:
Improving the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury will deliver real benefits for people living and working in Kent. Not only are we improving the road for drivers, we are also making sure that the environment is protected by the improvements. We recognise that that the A21 runs through exceptionally beautiful and protected countryside, and has significant cultural heritage. That’s why we’re ensuring that we are protecting the environment and preserving some of the history of the area.
Although the improvements involve clearing around 9 hectares of existing woodland to allow the widened road to pass through, the project team are replacing it with double that amount of woodland creation. Ancient soils and rootballs, along with additional planting, are being moved from the cleared area to the new location to ensure that the species mix of the woodland is preserved. These areas will be managed for 25 years.
In addition, 26 hectares of existing woodland will be enhanced and also managed for 10 years while the new planting becomes established.
A grade II listed building was carefully removed from the side of the A21 and is now in storage waiting to be rebuilt in an archaeological heritage museum.
Various species have been protected, including dormice and the great crested newt.
Meanwhile, construction continues to improve journeys on the A21 for the tens of thousands of drivers that rely on this vital route. In the next few months, it is expected that the project will move into the next phase with work starting on the new Longfield junction near Pembury.
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