A legal challenge has been lodged against a £1.5bn road dualling scheme following concerns from campaigners over noise and pollution.

The Transport Action Network (TAN) has launched a legal bid against work on 18 miles of the A66 between the M6 (J40) at Penrith and the A1(M) at Scotch Corner; the £1.5bn scheme that has already been approved by the secretary of state.

Pushing forward its argument, TAN believes that the work, which aims to dual the single carriageway, is a poor value for money and claims that several environmental concerns haven't been addressed.

According to the group, it will increase carbon emissions by 2.7 million tonnes throughout the A66 upgrades' lifespan, while also alleging that the scheme will fell up to 18,255 trees, covering an area the size of 53 football pitches.

Darlington and Stockton Times: A lorry on the A66A lorry on the A66 (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

The group notes that the road "would destroy the site of the Brough Hill horse fair that was granted by Royal Charter in 1330".

A spokesperson for TAN said: "Our legal challenge has six grounds that the Secretary of State for Transport has not lawfully considered the impact on the North Pennines and the blanket bog, not properly assessed the poor economic case for the scheme, and did not properly consider the significance of the carbon emissions from the scheme. We are firstly seeking permission to bring the case, and are crowdfunding to pay the legal costs."

But National Highways has said that the £1.5bn project will make journeys quicker and safer for people who travel on the "vital" route.

So far, campaigners have raised £2000 of their £33,000 target with 23 donations - but hope to be able to raise enough money to financially back their legal case.

National Highways said it did not know at this stage what impact the legal challenge would have should it be successful - but has highlighted how important the A66 project was.

Project director Stewart Jones said: "The A66 is a key route in the north of England and helps connect Cumbria with Durham.

"The route currently suffers from heavy congestion and has a poor collision record.

"We believe our proposals will provide smoother and safer journeys for thousands of commuters, hauliers and drivers who use this vitally important route every day, while also delivering an economic boost to the North.”