Cumbria's A66 set for £3.5m environmentally-friendly upgrade

Get Cumbria Buzzing has already led to improved pollinator habitats on the A66, like here at Rheghed, near Penrith.

Highways England claims that safer, smoother journeys as well as environmental benefits are on the way along the A66 in Cumbria, thanks to a £3.5m package of improvements.

Work along the A66 in west Cumbria includes junction improvements between Workington and Cockermouth and an extension of ground-breaking partnership work with Cumbria Wildlife Trust to enhance wildlife habitats, especially for pollinators like bees, along the route.

Highways England project manager Heather Ashurst said: “This is one of the biggest packages of improvement and maintenance work we have ever delivered in this part of Cumbria. It represents an important investment in tackling congestion and providing safer, smoother journeys in a very busy part of our road network serving key towns like Cockermouth, Workington, Whitehaven and major employment centres like Sellafield.”

Key features of the package include the £1.5m A595/A66 Fitz roundabout improvement near Papcastle and £1.25m widening of the A66/A595 junction further west at Great Clifton. Both of these are being paid for from a national £220m fund to tackle congestion hotspots, £27m of which is dedicated to schemes in the North West.

While work to prepare for the improvements to the Great Clifton and Fitz roundabouts will begin on Monday (29 July), the main work will start in the autumn and will mostly be carried out using overnight temporary traffic lights and carriageway closures. Cyclists and pedestrians, as well as drivers, will benefit from the improvements which should be completed by next spring.

The environmental improvements will focus on improving habitats for bees and other pollinators in grass verges along 6.5 miles of the route from the outskirts of Workington to Papcastle. The biodiversity work is part of Highways England’s commitment to enhancing road network environments or reducing the impact of traffic on habitats and communities.

The company has been supporting Cumbria Local Nature Partnership’s Get Cumbria Buzzing! project and has already funded work, delivered by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, along the A590 and other sections of the A66, to create habitats that provide food, shelter and nesting sites for bees and other pollinators.

Get Cumbria Buzzing! project manager Tanya St Pierre said: “This work will provide much-needed pollinator-friendly havens and wildflower-rich corridors, enabling our bumblebees, butterflies and hoverflies to move more freely across north west Cumbria. Working together with Highways England we’ll be creating short flowering lawns, flower rich grassland, sunny banks and glades, and overwintering refuges, helping our pollinators to survive and thrive.”

If you would like to contact Rob O’Connor about this, or any other story, please email