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Dualling of A47 in Norfolk granted consent

Words: Laura Edgar
A47, Blofield / SevenMaps_shutterstock_1699934632

A development consent order (DCO) to upgrade a section of the A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham has been grantedby transport secretary Grant Shapps.

The scheme, a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), was accepted for examination in January 2021. It is located in the administrative county of Norfolk and the boundaries of Broadland District Council.

Permission was sought for: 1.61 miles (2.6km) of dual carriageway on the A47; the de-trunking of the existing A47 section between Blofield and North Burlingham; and improvements at Yarmouth Road Junction, including closure of the central reserve.

The transport secretary granted the DCO with modifications, in line with the recommendation of the examining authority, the Planning Inspectorate.

In considering the need for the development, the secretary of state noted that it is one of six A47 schemes identified in Roads Investment Strategy (RIS) 1 and RIS 2 that seek to improve journeys on a 115-mile section of the A47 between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth. National Highway's transport assessment found that the section of the single carriageway between Blofield and North Burlingham to be a bottleneck that resulted in congestion and longer journey times.

Both Norfolk County Council and Broadland District Council support the principle of the scheme and Shapps found that it accorded with the relevant local transport policies. He agreed with the Planning Inspectorate that the development would deliver a "significant benefit to the strategic road network supporting a prosperous and competitive economy and would meet the critical need to address congestion".

The Secretary of State also agreed that "substantial weight" is afforded to the contribution the scheme would make to the meeting the need set out in the National Policy Statement for National Networks (NPSNN).

With regards to nutrient neutrality. he was satitsfied that the development would have "no likely significant effect" on both the River Wensum and The Broads' Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).

The decision states that the examining authority concluded that air quality matters were a neutral consideration in the planning balance, which Shapps agreed with.

Both Shapps and the examining authority agreed that biodiversity net gain resulting from the development weighed in its favour but that the adverse effect on bats weighed against it.

"The ExA was satisfied that consideration has been given to alternative developments and, as required by paragraph 5.35 of the NPSNN, that the strategic benefits of the proposed development are such that they would clearly outweigh the potential adverse impact on bats, and that the potential harm would be outweighed by the benefits of the proposed development in meeting Government policy as set out in the NPSNN. The secretary of state agrees with this and is satisfied that the proposed development conforms with the NPSNN."

The secretary of state is "content" that National Highways has adequately assessed the "likely significant effects" of the scheme on the climate and its cumulative impacts on climate taking account of both construction and operation. However, because it will increase carbon emissions, this was given negative weight in the planning balance. In relation to climate change vulnerability and adaptation, the decision letter adds that the development attracts neutral weight in the planning balance.

The decision letter and other documents relating to the scheme can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.

Image credit | SevenMaps, Shutterstock