Work to pave the way for the construction of the Long Stratton bypass will start in January, despite continued uncertainty over money for the £47m road project.

Norfolk County Council is to temporarily pump £1.3m in to get the scheme started, even though the authority has yet to submit its final business case for the road - the point where the government will confirm how much it will award for the project.

A government decision over the business case for the road is expected in March, with the full construction work on the two-and-a-half-mile A140 bypass due to begin in April.

Eastern Daily Press: Work on the Long Stratton bypass is due to start in April, but preparatory work will begin in JanuaryWork on the Long Stratton bypass is due to start in April, but preparatory work will begin in January (Image: Denise Bradley)

But County Hall's Conservative-controlled cabinet says it needs to risk putting its own money in before that final government decision, because environmental mitigation work needs to be done before the bird-nesting season begins.

Council officers acknowledge that is a risk, because, if the Department for Transport does not approve the business case, the council could, in a worst case scenario, end up being liable for the cost of that work and contract termination - which could be up to £2m.

But officers said the risk was "low" and if work did not get under way early next year, it could lead to delays and increased costs.

Eastern Daily Press: Alison Thomas, Norfolk county councillor for Long StrattonAlison Thomas, Norfolk county councillor for Long Stratton (Image: Archant)

Alison Thomas, Conservative county councillor for Long Stratton, said: "This is quite a milestone for me personally, having been around this issue for 26 years - 10 as a resident and 16 years as a county councillor for Long Stratton. I know many in Long Stratton will welcome this milestone."

The price tag of the road, which is linked to the construction of 1,800 homes on land nearby, has already gone up.

The government announced in 2021 it would give £26.2m towards it, only for the bill to subsequently rise from £37.4m to £46.2m and now to £46.9m.

The county council is hoping the government's decision to scrap part of the HS2 rail link will make more money available to plug a £6m budget gap, but millions could have to be borrowed if that is not forthcoming.

Council bosses hope the road can be built in 18 months and open to traffic by the end of 2025.