THE cost of a long-awaited bypass has been reduced by more than 20 per cent, saving £8m on original estimates.

The Government gave final approval for the Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar bypass and agreed to contribute £29.2m towards the £34.6m cost, with North Yorkshire County Council footing the rest of the bill.

Original costs for the scheme were £42.5m with the Department for Transport originally agreeing to contribute nearly £36m.

A council spokesman said: "As the Bedale bypass scheme has progressed we have been able to firm up some of the earlier budget planning assumptions.

"This has led to an extremely competitive tendering process which means the county council has been able to secure best value for the scheme.”

It is hoped the road will be completed by summer 2016.

Councillor John Weighell, leader of North Yorkshire County Council and member for Bedale, said: "Local people have waited a long time for approval of a bypass, so the news that it is finally to go ahead will be very welcome indeed."

Engineers say the three-mile bypass will relieve around half of the existing 14,000 vehicles using the road.

The bypass will divert the main A684 road, taking it to the north of Leeming Bar, Aiskew and Bedale, rejoining the road at a junction near Bedale Golf Club.

It crosses the A1M where it will connect with the recently-completed junction as part of the Highways Agency's A1 Dishforth to Barton upgrade.

The council say it is expected to bring important economic benefits associated with the construction, including the use of local labour, while local businesses will benefit from the demand for stone, aggregates, tar macadam and concrete.

Executive member of highways Councillor Gareth Dadd added: "We believe the bypass is essential for the future prosperity of a very large part of North Yorkshire. As well as being of obvious immediate benefit to Bedale and its surrounding communities, the bypass will make access to the northern Dales, one of the heartlands of the hugely important North Yorkshire visitor and tourism economy , very much safer and easier.

"The Tour de France has put North Yorkshire firmly on the map as a tourist destination and construction of the bypass will mean that the area will be in a much better position to cope with increasing numbers of visitors."