A Dorset motorway?

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Could there actually be an economic case for ploughing a motorway through Dorset, asks Andrew Livingston

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Here’s a horrific notion to get you started for 2023 – should Dorset have a motorway?
Now just hear me out before you smash your phones, tablets and laptops in utter disgust.
Growing up in one of the five counties without any stretch of motorway has always been a source of pride for me. But I have been starting to brood on it. And I won’t lie – I am starting to see a few benefits. What if, let’s say, the M3 continued all the way to somewhere like Dorchester?
This all started when I saw a few statistics as I rummaged through some government reports.
Around 75 per cent of Dorset is used for agriculture, around the national average. However, food production in the county employs fewer than 6,000 people. In 2021 that was less than 10 per cent of the total employed in that sector in the South West.
It made me think. We’ve got some amazing food here in Dorset. Could we be doing better at exporting it?
Think about our neighbours in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. Their counties are renowned for some amazing agricultural and food products that are sold all over the country – the cheeses, creams, beers and cider that are grown and made there.

Only five English counties are entirely without a motorway: Rutland, Suffolk, Norfolk, Dorset and Cornwall

Made in Dorset
There are so many amazing foods made in this county, but you don’t really see them further afield. Granted, Clipper Tea is found globally, but the tea isn’t grown in Dorset. Ford Farm’s Coastal Cheddar, Moore’s Biscuits, Capreolus charcuterie and BV Dairy’s creams are a few local products that I can think of that you can find in stores nationally (but of course no one actually knows when they’re buying BV Dairy product from Dorset!).
Admittedly, Cornwall also doesn’t have a motorway and still manages to ship its food and beverages nationally just fine; but they do have the A30 and A38, which both lead straight into the M5.
And I don’t mean to break the hearts of big fans of the A35 and the A37 but frankly, they are awful. Especially in the summer.
The Romans invaded Maiden Castle and Dorset in 43 AD and occupied the county for more than 300 years. When they left and headed back to Italy all we had to do was tarmac their roads occasionally (and maybe replace the signposts once a century) and we would have been fine!
I will admit – before I get chased out of the county by the readership wielding flaming pitchforks – that the A38 from Bridport to Dorchester is stunning on a clear day. But you daren’t overtake anyone on the one stretch of dual carriageway in case a wandering car drifts lanes as the driver looks across Eggardon Hill to the north and the Jurassic coastline to the south. In my head I obviously hate the very idea of a motorway. But I also believe that the rest of the country deserves some of our amazing Dorset produce. If extending the M3 means that Londoners get the experience of the silky smooth taste of Purbeck ice cream then so be it.
I’ll even accept some decent dual carriageways if it means that the north could finally know that a Dorset Knob isn’t just sitting between the legs of the Cerne Giant.

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