A £1.3bn project to turn parts of the A66 into a dual carriageway has been approved. 

The A66 Northern Trans-Pennine project will dual the 80-kilometre stretch between Penrith and Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire. 

The project also includes improvements to multiple junctions and minor enhancements to the already existing sections of the dual carriageway on the A66.

It was approved by the Transport Secretary on March 7, following a delay in the decision. 

Transport for the North’s chief executive, Martin Tugwell, said the A66 dueling would deliver indispensable upgrades to the north's east-west connectivity.

"It will remove bottlenecks along this key corridor, make the road safer and more reliable for everyone who uses it, including the high percentage of freight using the route, and connect our towns and cities to Scotland.

"It will be one of the biggest investments in the north’s road network for a generation and we look forward to continuing to work with National Highways as they deliver this very important piece of national infrastructure," he said. 

Archaeological works are currently ongoing along the site, hand in hand with National Highways. 

The plans for the road project were first tabled back in 2016. 

Dr Neil Hudson MP acknowledged the years of campaigning from communities and local businesses advocating for a project such as this. 

"I know I speak for everyone when I say we are delighted to get the go-ahead to get spades in the ground and deliver real results for local people and our whole region. 

"This vital upgrade will deliver faster travel times with less congestion, level up our regional economy, and - most importantly - make the road safer and reduce accidents. Now the real work begins," he said. 

Despite the approval, the Friends of the Lake District charity has voiced concerns regarding the new dual carriageway sections, saying they are 'disappointed by this short-sighted decision'. 

They warn of potential environmental damage, including negative impacts on the North Pennines AONB's tranquillity and landscape, the destruction of peat bogs, and a predicted rise in carbon emissions.

Dr Kate Willshaw, policy officer at Friends of the Lake District, said: "At a time when so many of us are experiencing the impact of climate change, it is morally wrong to embark on a project that will lock in greater car use.

"We are bitterly disappointed by this short-sighted decision by the Secretary of State and we will be considering our next steps," she said.