A SOMERSET cycleway scheme has won a prestigious gold environment award.

Somerset County Council and contractor Skanska competed against more than 500 other nominations in the Green Apple Environment Awards, in a national campaign to find the greenest individuals, companies, councils and communities.

The winning entry was a scheme to build the new 1.2km cycleway alongside the A39 between Cannington and Sandford Hill.

This provides a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists and connects up to other off-road facilities between Cannington and Combwich and in Wembdon.

During construction, alternative surfacing products were used to reduce the amount of material required and halve the time on site.

Materials were also recycled to further speed up the process and radically improve the carbon footprint by reducing the number of lorry movements.

Working mainly off-road helped limit polluting standing traffic as well as minimising disruption to the travelling public.

Contractors increased the amount of hedging by 100m, including mixed species planting of 6,500 saplings and 56 new trees.

They also installed bat boxes, sowed wildflower seeds along the new embankments, and even created bug hotels from waste materials to encourage wildlife.

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This new cycle route is a very welcome addition to the area and encourages people to ditch their car and cycle or walk instead.

“We work hard to protect our environment and are delighted our efforts to complete this important scheme sensitively have been recognised on a national level.

"My thanks to everyone involved with the design and delivery.”

The A39 is a key freight route for heavy goods vehicles heading to the Hinkley Point power station.

This cycleway scheme was funded through Hinkley C Section 106 contributions to mitigate the impacts of construction traffic upon vulnerable road users.

David Eccles, head of stakeholder engagement for Hinkley C, said: “Our extensive plans, in close co-operation with the County Council, to improve the highway network in order to both facilitate the construction of Hinkley Point C and to leave a safer and more sustainable legacy include a number of such schemes, and we are delighted this one has won such a prestigious award.”

The trophy and certificate was presented at a glittering presentation ceremony at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) on July 16 which was attended by representatives from Somerset County Council, Skanska and main sub contractor Drayton Construction Ltd.