Update: £148.5m Norwich Northern Distributor Road would be ‘biggest piece of environmental destruction yet seen in Norfolk’ planning inquiry told
A proposed £148.5m road to the north of Norwich would be “the biggest piece of environmental destruction yet seen in Norfolk”, it was claimed at a public hearing today.
Objectors to the Norwich Northern Distributor Road made their views known in front of a team of planning inspectors at Norwich’s Assembly House.
The inspectors have been hearing evidence and representations which will help them decide whether they think the scheme should go ahead.
Norfolk County Council wants to build the 19.5km road from the A47 at Postwick in the east of the city to the A1067 Fakenham Road to the north-west.
The council says it will improve journey times, stop rat-running and congestion and bring an economic boost.
But at today’s hearing, which was preceded by a protest outside the Theatre Street venue, a succession of critics put their case against the road.
Among them was Andrew Cawdron, who lives in Thorpe End. He raised concerns about the council’s claims over noise from the road and said it would “degrade” the quality of life for people in the area.
He said: “My concern is that the evidence presented is sometimes contradictory and is slanted in favour of the NDR, despite some of its own evidence being to the contrary.
“It is difficult to know what to believe, other than that we are on the verge of the biggest piece of environmental destruction yet seen in Norfolk, and I must oppose it.”
Katy Jones, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, questioned the council’s justification for the road and said the “vast majority” of the public do not want the road.
She warned it would lead to rat running in places such as Costessey, while leading to development in the countryside.
She said: “We are massively concerned about the impact on the countryside and on public access to it.
“But it all comes down to why on earth do we need this road? Is this road what is necessary for Norfolk?”
Rupert Read, former Norwich city councillor and the national Green Party spokesman on transport, said the planning for the road had stymied alternative proposals and he also criticised the consultation process as being skewed in getting answers in favour of the road.
He added: “It would increase the level of carbon emissions in Norfolk and it would be profoundly irresponsible to our descendants to allow this road to go ahead.”
And Denise Carlo, a Green city councillor, speaking on behalf of the Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group, said the road would not reduce traffic, but generate more of it.
She said if the council was really interested in reducing traffic, it would be better off improving radial bus routes in and out of the city, such as in Sprowston Road and Wroxham Road.
The panel of inspectors are dealing with much of the issue through written submissions, but today saw the first of four open hearings this week.
Further hearings, focusing on specific issues, are scheduled for September, while there would also be hearings over land and property which would need to be compulsory purchased for the road to go ahead The inspectors have to complete their examination by December and then have three months to make a recommendation.
The transport secretary would then have three months to decide what to do, although there is the power to award an extension.
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