Countryside charity will be lobbying to stop the NDR A47 Western Link
- Credit: Archant
A countryside charity has said it will actively lobby to stop the Western Link of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road from getting funding.
The Norfolk branch of the Campaign To Protect Rural England says the £153m road is emblematic of transport thinking “which remains embedded in the 1950s” - and will destroy “irreplaceable countryside.”
Norfolk County Council wants to build the 3.8 mile dual carriageway to link the NDR to the A47 west of Norwich and has selected a route, saying it would ease congestion and boost the economy.
The road would travel between Weston Longville and Ringland, linking to the A47 at a new junction at Wood Lane near Honingham, with a 720-metre-long viaduct over the River Wensum.
But Christopher Dady, chairman of CPRE Norfolk, said, just as the group had opposed the NDR, it would lobby to stop the Western Link from securing funding.
Mr Dady said: “For those who are now subject to high levels of traffic using very minor roads between the NDR and the A47, the link is the only way they see for dealing with the situation.
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“For others in the communities towards the western end of the road a simple quick way to reach the A47 is considered desirable.
“And for politicians, who still harbour the thought that roads offer part of a ‘build build build’ solution to bring economic prosperity, then they lend their support.”
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Mr Dady said: “We still hold by the principle that any major road scheme is inappropriate and unsustainable in relation to our global environmental crisis, as well as opposing the damage caused to our precious local irreplaceable countryside. No remedial work proposed can ever put right this right.”
He said transport thinking “embedded in the 1950s” needed to be changed and said he also feared a rush to develop land on the route would lead to other, potentially more appropriate sites for housing being landbanked.
Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure at Norfolk County Council, said: “There is strong support to create a link road between the western end of Broadland Northway and the A47, which has been highlighted by local communities that are blighted by rat-running, an issue raised by them before the Broadland Northway was delivered.
“The Norwich Western Link is not being designed with the sole intention of benefiting car drivers but rather to take traffic congestion off local roads and out of residential areas, improving people’s quality of life and giving them more travel options.”
He said, as a predominantly rural community, journeys by car would continue to be “the only option for some people” and the council took its environmental responsibilities very seriously.
He said: “We absolutely understand the need to consider all relevant elements and impacts when proposing any transport improvements.
“The council takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and we’ve carried out a great deal of ecology surveys in the area of the proposed route of the Norwich Western Link across two years to inform our decision-making on the project.
“We’re planning to introduce significant environmental mitigation measures and seeking to achieve biodiversity net gain for all applicable habitats, as set out by Defra, which will also see new areas of habitat created, including woodland and wetland, as well as improvements to existing ones.”
On the issue of development along the road, Mr Wilby said: “The Norwich Western Link will not be funded by development. We will be applying for national government funding for most of the costs and have already received some initial funding to support our work on the project.”