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Norwich bypass receives government support

Words: Laura Edgar

The Norwich Northern Distributor Road has been granted a development consent order by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, a decision that has been condemned by campaigners.

In his decision letter McLoughlin said that in the public interest, “the case is compelling” for authorising this Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

The bypass, aimed at reducing congestion on the existing road network in and around Norwich and improving transport connectivity in the area, will be dual carriageway, and wlll run 20km from the A47 at Postwick to the A1067 Fakenham Road.

George Hobbs, the leader of Norfolk County Council, said that after years of planning work is close to starting on a project that is of “enormous importance to Norfolk and Norwich”.

Hobbs continued: "We are determined to improve Norfolk's infrastructure after years of under-investment, and this is a huge stride forward.

"There are other hurdles to clear, including finalising construction pricing and funding approval, but the secretary of state’s announcement brings us significantly closer to starting work. This much-needed road improvement around Greater Norwich will allow us to create the capacity for other city centre improvements.”

Campaigners, however, have condemned the decision to grant development consent. During planning examination, which concluded in March, Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group represented local concerns and opposed the scheme.

Denise Carlo, from the group, said: “This three-quarters ‘road to nowhere’ has been rushed through under new planning laws biased in favour of building new roads. There will be many losers.

“Norfolk is under serious threat from climate change-induced sea level rise and constructing a carbon-generating third ring road around Norwich is grossly irresponsible. This decision will also have a serious financial impact as Norfolk County Council has pledged £60 million towards the northern distributor road on top of the millions it has already wasted.”

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, added: “The £150 million of public money being wasted on this road would be far better spent on public transport, sorting out potholes, space for cycling, getting freight off our roads and reducing the need to travel by car.”