Dualling of the A64 has been described as “the key priority” for Ryedale’s future economic fortunes.

District councillors voted on Thursday to support the principle of dualling and improving the trunk road from York to Scarborough.

A motion, put forward by the Conservatives, asked for the council to support the principle of dualling, and called on local and national authorities to work together to achieve it as soon as possible.

Councillor Keane Duncan, leader of the Conservative group, said: “Dualling the A64 must happen if we want to ensure Ryedale remains accessible and competitive.

“It must be the key priority for authorities in order to secure jobs, growth and investment.

“In doing so, we can also address road safety concerns.

“I am pleased most councillors support dualling and voted for our motion.”

Cllr Duncan said he did not think a choice needed to be made between the economy and environment.

“The Conservatives do not believe we need to make such an impossible choice. We believe a balanced approach is possible. We can invest in the road infrastructure we need to prosper as a district while ensuring we continue to take action locally and nationally to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Calls to dual the A64 to improve links with Ryedale and the coast have been made for a number of years.

A report prepared for the committee by its officers states: “Proposals to upgrade and dual the A64 have been of interest to the council and the communities and businesses of Ryedale for some considerable period of time.

"The exploratory work which is currently being undertaken, led by Highways England (HE), will inform a Department for Transport (DfT) decision on whether enhancement works will be progressed.

“As a key stakeholder RDC’s view on the proposals will carry important weight.

“The dualling of the A64 is expected to generate significant economic benefits for the district, but it is recognised that construction and use will have environmental impacts.”

When the issue was last discussed by the council in 2019 Liberal councillor Mike Potter moved a motion that a climate change impact assessment should be carried out before the council gave its support. That motion was defeated.

During last week’s meeting, Cllr Duncan accepted a suggestion from Cllr Simon Thackray (Independent) for the motion to include specific references to improvements at Musley Bank and Broughton Road to help improve air quality in Malton.

Cllr Thackray said: “The new 2021 World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Air Quality Guidelines (published on 22 September) have confirmed that the breathable air in the Malton Air Quality Management Area is now double (2x) the recommended limit for the concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).

“One of the most dangerous airborne pollutants, NO2 is a by-product of the emissions from diesel engine vehicles, and, as such, 40% of NO2 is caused by HGVs which comprise only 5% of traffic movements.

Cllr Thackray added: “I believe we have no choice as a council but to respond immediately and invest a large chunk of the £16 million we hold on reserve to construct new slip roads on/off the A64 at the B1257 Broughton Road, and a new roundabout at Musley Bank in order to remove the most polluting vehicles (HGVs), and life-threatening air pollution from the centre of Malton (and Norton).

“This, coupled with the proper policing and enforcement of the HGV restriction over Norton level crossing, is the only identified means and practical way in which we can protect the people of Malton and Norton from the harm caused by air pollution.

“We took a big step as a council at last Thursday by acknowledging the urgent need for the completion of the slips roads and new roundabout at Musley Bank, in response to the new 2021 WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines.

Cllr Thackray added: “We should now stop talking and turn our words into action.”