Three major safety schemes on the A47 have been thrown into doubt after lawyers acting for environmentalists forced yet another delay on the works.

The activists – who have already caused the cost of the works to rise by tens of millions of pounds – have been granted permission to take their case to the Court of Appeal.

Their legal action, which has previously been thrown out by the High Court, has been brought by Dr Andrew Boswell, who argues the environmental impact of the schemes, at Blofield, Easton and Thickthorn, has not been fully considered.

He is funding the case through crowdfunding, but the government’s case – and the rising costs connected to the delays – is being met by the taxpayer.

His latest legal action will enrage those seeking to get the work started as soon as possible.

Eastern Daily Press: Preparatory work on the A47 ahead of duallingPreparatory work on the A47 ahead of dualling (Image: Mike Page)

Dr Boswell's case relates to the dualling of two sections of the A47 and a major revamp of Thickthorn roundabout.

The schemes are intended to improve safety and cut congestion on the key route, while helping the local economy.

Preliminary work on the two dualling projects, between Blofield and North Burlingham and Easton and North Tuddenham, had already started.

It had been held up for months by Dr Boswell's original court challenge, but started again after the High Court dismissed his case.

However, the former Green city and county councillor lodged an appeal against that decision and a Court of Appeal judge has now permitted it, saying Dr Boswell's appeal "has a real prospect of success".

Eastern Daily Press: Dr Andrew BoswellDr Andrew Boswell

It has left the future of the projects in doubt.

Eastern Daily Press: Mrs Justice ThorntonMrs Justice Thornton (Image: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary)

High Court judge Mrs Justice Thornton had dismissed Dr Boswell's argument that the cumulative carbon impact of the A47 schemes had not been properly considered by the Department for Transport, when the transport secretaries granted permission for the schemes.

But he requested the right to appeal and Lord Justice Coulson has granted that, saying: "The judge may well have been right in her conclusion, but I consider that the contrary case making up this single ground has a real prospect of success."

Eastern Daily Press: Dr Andrew Boswell at the High Court in LondonDr Andrew Boswell at the High Court in London (Image: Dan Grimmer)

Dr Boswell said: "My determination to see carbon emissions properly assessed on road schemes has been vindicated.

"Lord Justice Coulson has given permission for the Court of Appeal to hear this issue because as he says it ‘has a real prospect of success’.

"We are not seeing any real reduction in carbon pollution from UK roads, or Norfolk roads, and success in the appeal court would have wider implications for the government’s failing climate strategy, especially on transport.

Eastern Daily Press: Thickthorn roundaboutThickthorn roundabout (Image: Mike Page)

"To get this far is a win for all those concerned about the climate breakdown which we have seen unfolding before our very eyes this year."

Dr Boswell said: "The legal case for appeal from my lawyers is very clear, and very strong, and we will now put all our energies into winning this case.”

He also said the court's decision to grant him permission to appeal vindicated him, following recent criticism of his actions by senior Conservatives Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew and Norfolk County Council leader Kay Mason Billig.

Eastern Daily Press: Broadland MP Jerome MayhewBroadland MP Jerome Mayhew (Image: UK Parliament)

Mrs Mason Billig had branded him a "misguided individual" and claimed he did not have the best interests of the county's residents at heart, while Mr Mayhew had said: "Whilst Dr Boswell may be crowdfunding his legal costs, the taxpayer should not have to foot the multi-million-pound cost increase caused as a result of his ideologically driven legal challenges."

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But Dr Boswell said: "This permission from a senior law lord to go ahead to the Court of Appeal demonstrates that, all along, I have had a crucial case which is examining a vital point of law of national importance.

"The recent attacks on me by local politicians were in fact an attack on the constitution of this country which upholds an independent judiciary, with the right for the public to challenge government decisions through the courts.

"This is at the root of our democracy, and these politicians should retract their attack on democracy and the judicial process, and on the right of individuals to justice."

Eastern Daily Press: Kay Mason Billig, leader of Norfolk County CouncilKay Mason Billig, leader of Norfolk County Council (Image: Norfolk County Council)

But Mrs Mason Billig said: "I know he and I will never see eye to eye on this and he's entitled to his views.

"But I think it is disappointing that he has taken it this far, having had a determination at the High Court before. I hope he gets the same outcome he got there.

"All he is doing is wasting his time and taxpayers' money. I think it will be disappointing for the majority of people who have to use the road network that we are facing a further hold-up."

Mr Mayhew said: "Dr Boswell’s latest appeal to the courts to try to prevent improvements to the A47 will, at the very least, bring further painful delay to the works and cost us taxpayers tens of millions of pounds in increased costs. 

"Dr Boswell is described as an environmental campaigner. I know him better as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Broadland at the last general election, where his anti-infrastructure views were resoundingly rejected by the electorate. 

"Dr Boswell failed to persuade the electorate to support his anti-car agenda so it is all the more disappointing that he has now turned to the judicial process as a means to delay these much-needed improvements."

Eastern Daily Press: Conservative David Thomas, Norwich South prospective parliamentary candidateConservative David Thomas, Norwich South prospective parliamentary candidate (Image: Norwich Conservatives)

And David Thomas, the Conservative's prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, hit out at Dr Boswell's actions.

He said: "Norfolk and Norwich really needs investment in important infrastructure. We need this infrastructure to reach our full economic potential.

"If it keeps taking a long time because actions like this delay it at every juncture, there is a knock on effect to the cost, so, of course, I am disappointed."

Chris Griffin, programme leader for National Highways in the East region, said: "This is a disappointing and difficult turn of events for those who recognise and support the safety case to upgrade this very busy road.

"However, we respect the decision of the court, and will now take some time to consider our next steps ahead of the appeal against the Secretary of State for Transport's decision to grant Development Consent Orders on three A47 improvement projects.

"In the meantime, we stand by our plans and remain confident that we can deliver significant improvements to both safety and congestion on the A47, as well as providing a huge boost to the regional economy."