HOPES for a bypass for Gargrave, Hellifield and Long Preston have been permanently dashed.

This week, the Government announced its decision to shelve long-awaited plans for bypasses along the notorious A65 trunk road following a public inquiry in February this year.

The way has now been paved to "de-trunk" the road and pass the buck to North Yorkshire County Council.

Talks of a bypass for the villages have been ongoing since the Second World War. The latest order to create two new routes - one around Gargrave and the other around Long Preston and Hellifield - was put forward in 1993 by the Conservative Secretary of State.

However, it was dropped in 1997 following a change in government, but not before the Highways Agency had made a number of compulsory purchases along the proposed route totalling more than £1.1 million.

John Hornigold, Agency team leader, told February's public inquiry that the order should now be revoked because the Secretary of State no longer intended to build the bypass.

This week a statement was issued from the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

It read: "The Secretaries of State are satisfied that the Secretary of State for Transport will not now, or in the foreseeable future, build the two bypasses under the current policies and have therefore decided to support the inspector's recommendation that the revocation order be made.

"The Secretary of State for Transport will, for the time being, continue to promote improvements to the A65 where it is considered expedient to do so and warranted on safety grounds.

"However, a solution to providing relief from the impacts of traffic on the communities in the A65 corridor lies with the local highway authority as part of their local transport plan."

Craven District Council leader Carl Lis said he was devastated by the news.

He said: "We (the district council) are disappointed with the Government's decision to revoke the bypass orders.

"Levels of traffic through the middle of Gargrave, Hellifield and Long Preston are completely unacceptable and have a serious impact on quality of life.

"Residents have to endure the misery of increasing numbers of heavy goods vehicles with all the noise, pollution and road safety problems that they bring.

"Craven District Council, North Yorkshire County Council and all the parish councils objected to the revocation orders and put forward strong supporting arguments to the inquiry.

"It would seem that, in the end, the Government decided that the quality of life of residents in Gargrave, Hellifield and Long Preston did not justify the costs of the bypass scheme. We disagree."

Skipton and Ripon MP David Curry also fought hard to save the order and said he regretted the Government's decision to pull the plug'.

"In doing this, they have pronounced the bypass' last rites and, in effect, have thrown the final clod of earth on top of the coffin," said Mr Curry.

"When the Conservatives were in power the planning for the new bypasses was well advanced. Even when there was a change of government and the order was put on hold, there was always the hope that it could be revisited. All the hard work and planning had already been done.

"The next step is to formally de-trunk the road and pass it over to North Yorkshire County Council. Of course the county council does not have the funding to build bypasses so it won't get done," he added.