Exclusive: Transport secretary says people will back NDR once it is complete
06:30 03 March 2016
Archant © 2013
People will back a controversial distributor road around Norwich once it is complete, the transport secretary has said ahead of a visit to the construction site today.
Patrick McLoughlin said they would “go to the nth degree” to make sure environmental assessments were done, as he defended the government decision to contribute £10m to the £30m shortfall last year amid spiralling costs for the Northern Distributor Road (NDR)
He was speaking ahead of a visit to Norfolk, which will also include a stop off at the new aviation academy at Norwich International Airport and a visit to see the new A12/A143 link road.
He said he had not planned any new announcements during his visit, but there would be more to say about the rail links once they had chosen the operator for the lines currently run by Abellio Greater Anglia.
Questioned about his decision to provide an extra £10m for Norwich’s northern distributor relief road against “firm” government policy he said they had given money on the basis that the scheme stacked up.
He said: “Infrastructure schemes are always controversial. We go to the nth degree to make sure we make all the right assessments for the environment. I imagine once the road is completed in two years time most people will say it is a good improvement to the area.”
Questioned on the delays to the construction of a £300m upgrade to parts of the A47, he said they couldn’t carry out all their road investment in one go.
He also backed an East Anglian bid for more devolved powers over transport spending with a “Transport for the East” body set up with Oyster card style ticketing. But questioned about whether it would allow delayed projects like an upgrade to the key Ely North rail junction which will allow more trains between King’s Lynn and Cambridge and Norwich and Cambridge to be brought forward he said: ““We’ll see. It is not for me to tell a combined authority which has not been completely established in the first place what to do. They will have to work out their priorities.”
Adding that it would not allow them to spend what they pleased and some of the money would be spent with Network Rail and Highways England. “Let’s see how the negotiations go,” he added.