Disappointment for A47 campaigners

PUBLISHED: 07:45 30 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:07 22 October 2010

Road campaigners yesterday expressed their “deep disappointment” at a major 15-year regional plan which is set to ignore pleas to improve one of Norfolk's worst roads.

Road campaigners yesterday expressed their "deep disappointment" at a 15-year regional plan which is set to ignore pleas to improve one of Norfolk's worst roads.

Despite calls for work to widen or dual the A47 Acle Straight, a narrow and dangerous stretch of the one link road from Norwich to Yarmouth, it is set to be overruled because of the environmental impact.

For months inspectors have gathered evidence for the East of England plan, the blueprint for the development of the region up to 2021.

Last week they set out its priorities, which will go before the government later this year and will play a vital role in deciding where, and for what, funding is awarded from now on.

One of the key recommendations is to "promote transport improvements on key links into the area" especially "improved access by road into Yarmouth from Norwich".

But campaigners in Norfolk said yesterday that after studying the small print, it seems any widening or dualling would be curtailed after successful lobbying by the environmental lobby.

The draft report states: "Transport links are seen as vital in improving the sub-region's prospects but they are also the focus of some of the strongest environmental concerns.

"The plan will not convey a presumption in favour of dualling or other scheme-specific detail. Nor do we consider it necessary to include all the various other specific proposals listed, some of which are speculative, until there is further justification."

Adrian Gunson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for transport and chairman of the A47 Alliance campaign group, said: "They seem to have poured cold water over plans for the Acle Straight.

"I think this plan is close to being a whitewash, attempting to justify a large number of new houses within the region without paying any regards for the infrastructure to go with it.

"They've ducked the issue and have scant regard for infrastructure here. It is very disappointing but I will continue fighting for dualling with the A47 Alliance."

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright said: "I'm extremely disappointed with this draft plan. Even government ministers have said that when the road usage gets up to a certain level the road will need to be brought to a better standard. I hope they will take on board the views that are coming forward from people in Norfolk before they formalise the plan. I don't want this in the document going forward to government."

And Barry Coleman, leader of Yarmouth Borough Council, added: "To push dualling to one side like this seems a bizarre thing to do. I'm disappointed, yes, but we've been here before and we will just have to continue pushing hard like we've always done."

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