EDP says: It's time for a rethink on Western Link scheme

Western Link map

The Ordnance Survey application already shows the indicative route of the Western Link - even though the scheme does not yet have funding or planning permission. - Credit: Simon Parkin

The Eastern Daily Press leader column on the controversial Western Link scheme.

What to do about a problem like the Western Link?
When the project was initially announced – a logical next step after the completion of the Northern Distributor Road – Norfolk County Council cannot have imagined the bumps in the road that lay ahead.

Read the latest developments here. 
Since then there have been challenges relating to the environmental impact, traffic flow, cost and even disruption to a ‘supercolony’ of bats.
These large-scale projects will always throw up problems.
Many – particularly environmental ones – can be offset or mitigated to some degree, in a way that leaves most parties satisfied.

Artist's impression of a viaduct over the River Wensum.

An artist's impression of a viaduct which would carry the Western Link over the River Wensum. Photo: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council


But this is a project where differences of opinion are just not being settled – they are persisting, festering and widening.
However, while some are open to mediation, many of the project’s issues are implacable.
We have all seen the ruinous impact of inflation in recent months, a situation the Western Link development is not immune from.
The project’s costs had already spiralled to nearly £200m. The financial environment suggests it will now have burst through that barrier, and then some.
After all these twists and turns, we now have Norwich City Council due to come out against the scheme.
So back to the question in hand – what next?
It seems clear the project cannot go ahead in its current state, without many people left angry and unsatisfied, and the potential for legal arguments down the road.
The most sensible approach would be to slow down, take another look at the project, and find a safer route.