Green lobby welcomes A47 decision

Environmentalists yesterday welcomed the government's decision not to dual the A47 Acle Straight, saying it would have "ripped the heart out of the Broads".

Environmentalists yesterday welcomed the government's decision not to dual the A47 Acle Straight, saying it would have "ripped the heart out of the Broads".

MPs, business leaders and families of the road's victims have lined up to criticise Tuesday's package of safety measures for the eight-mile, dyke-lined road from Acle to Yarmouth.

They said that £600,000-worth of resurfacing, signs and cats-eyes amounted to a "sticking plaster solution" that fell far short of the work needed to make the road safe and improve links to Yarmouth.

But yesterday the powerful environmental lobby welcomed the long-awaited announcement by roads minister Stephen Ladyman, which effectively took any chance of dualling off the table for a generation.

They said that Halvergate Marshes, which the road bisects, was an area of special scientific interest, part of a national park and a wildlife haven for wetland habitats.

RSPB conservation officer John Sharpe said: "We welcome the minister's decision. The RSPB believes that dualling would lead to damage to the valuable wildlife and landscape of the Broads.

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"Widening would increase traffic volumes, fuel use and greenhouse gasses that cause climate change."

Denise Carlo, of environmental pressure group Transport 2000, said: "This is a good day for everyone who cares about the landscape and wildlife of the Broads.

"It is an area of international importance which deserves to be cherished.

"Dualling would have ripped the heart out of this unique national park."

Dr Martin George, who has co-ordinated the Broads Society's campaign against dualling, said: "As a conservation body we are acutely aware of the environmental effects of creating a second carriageway for the road.

"But we strongly believe that very careful consideration should be given to moving the ditches away from the sides. Far more money needs to be spent in the short term on safety measures. We're rather disappointed with the small sums of money the minister has earmarked."

Many of the groups also called for improved public transport and a 50mph speed limit along the entire stretch.

Rachel Reeves, transport campaigner for the Council for National Parks, said: "Dualling would have severely harmed the landscape, tranquillity and wildlife of the Broads.

"We welcome the safety measures, which represent value for money and are relatively quick to implement."

And Ian Shepherd, policy co-ordinator for the Campaign for Rural England, said: "The safety measures are extremely welcome and are long overdue.

"We think the minister's package gets a good balance between environmental, safety and regeneration concerns and in that regard we're happy."