Action group on gas terminal bypass

RICHARD BATSON An action group has been formed to air concerns about moves to build a bypass around Norfolk's big gas terminal to reduce the risk from terrorism.Residents and businesses have posed 20 questions sparked by the idea which they would like the authorities to think about.

RICHARD BATSON

An action group has been formed to air concerns about moves to build a bypass around Norfolk's big gas terminal to reduce the risk from terrorism.

Residents and businesses have posed 20 questions sparked by the idea which they would like the authorities to think about.

They include asking whether the impact on the local economy and environment are justified by the security benefits, as the road is only one of several ways potential terrorists could attack the site, which handles a third of the nation's gas supplies.

And there are signs the issue could become a political battleground, with MP Norman Lamb set to get a briefing from Home Office officials next Tuesday, while his Tory rival has taken the shadow transport secretary to the area.

The idea of a bypass has been raised by the government and Norfolk's chief constable Ian McPherson, both of whom see the risks attached to having a main coast road running through the middle of a vital energy hub. But the newly formed Bacton Action Group is concerned about several aspects of the idea, and the lack of consultation with locals so far.

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Spokesman Tony Arnold said the best way to aid security of the site was to keep it out of the media, but after the idea became public, they felt they had to air their thoughts - which they hoped Mr Lamb would raise with the minister.

“There is anxiety among the businesses and community about something that won't necessarily improve safety at the gas site.”

There were many other means of attack, and a bypass could harm the local countryside and passing trade to village businesses such as shops, pubs and caravan parks.

Mr Lamb said he would put villagers' points to Home Office minister Tony McNulty next week, adding: “We cannot dismiss security concerns nationally or locally, but nor can we take it as read there is any justification for any change. The local community needs to be consulted.”

Tory shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, after touring the village, said: “It is important we do not overreact to threats. Local people must be satisfied the effect on their lives is justified.”

Local prospective Conservative candidate Trevor Ivory, who is doing a questionnaire to canvass views, added: “The security of the terminal is clearly the most important issue, but there is a real sense among local people this is a knee-jerk reaction to recent events.”

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