MAJOR plans to upgrade the A59 between Skipton and Harrogate, which have now been given Department of Transport support, are set to be discussed by councillors today.

A consultants' report to today's North Yorkshire County Council Craven Area Committee could recommend the road at Kex Gill be moved to avoid future possible landslides.

The meeting will hear details of the report looking at three potential 're-alignments' of the road, which over the years has suffered frequent closures and cost the council almost a million pounds in repairs.

Bypassing the route has received the support of the Department for Transport (DfT) which has suggested that the scheme be accelerated because of he importance of the A59, but challenges of the site mean it is unlikely within five years.

Cllr Andy Solloway, who plans to talk in favour of a bypass at the meeting in Ingleton, said the road needed to be 'fit for purpose'.

"It is a major arterial route and we need to seriously lobby the government now and bring this forward," he said.

Last year, the road - the only direct route between Skipton and Harrogate - was closed for seven weeks and last month, temporary traffic lights were in place for investigatory work to take place on the steep banking to avoid the potential of more slippage.

The options assessment report by Mouchel, which is due to be finished next month, considers moving the road close to its current position, but also to two other locations, on either the south or the north of the valley.

It also looks at the further realignment of Kex Gill Bridge - identified as a pinch point and potential accident blackspot - and the inclusion of a crawler lane at the Hopper House Hotel for traffic heading towards Harrogate.

The report is due to be finished next month, and will be followed with public consultation and the drawing up of an outline business case.

Completion of the business case will then allow the county council to make a bid for funding to the government's department of transport.

A report to today's meeting says talks have already taken place with the DfT and have been 'extremely positive'.

"The DfT has indicated that they recognise the high risk of the potential landslip and its significant impact on the A59 as an important part of both the local and regional transport network. They have indicated that they are supportive in principle of the scheme, and further have suggested that the scheme development process be accelerated."

But the report warns that the area around Kex Gill is considered to be of 'extremely high landscape and environmental importance' with discussions already ongoing with Natural England, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

"The normal development time for a scheme of this nature would be in excess of five years, especially given the environmental designations of the land it the area. It should therefore be noted that to compress this development timeframe will be extremely challenging."

Today's Craven Area Committee at the Ingleborough Community Centre, Ingleton, will start at 10am.