MP does not think there will be major legal challenge to the A47

Transport minister, Stephen Hammond, centre, at the A47 yesterday <mon> with local MPs, from left, H

Transport minister, Stephen Hammond, centre, at the A47 yesterday <mon> with local MPs, from left, Henry Bellingham, Chloe Smith, Richard Bacon, George Freeman, Elizabeth Truss, and Keith Simpson. Picture: Denise Bradley

A Norfolk MP said there were no 'red lights flashing' over a legal challenge to the A47 upgrade after meeting Highways bosses in Westminster.

Four of the region's MPs met chiefs from the road building body Highways England as they push to speed up work to improve the road.

The Highways official in charge of the A47 said the project was still set to start in 2020 after meeting MPs. A consultation about work to the road is due to begin later this month.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said MPs had pressed Highways bosses to speed up work - but acknowledged they had to make sure they were not open to a legal challenge.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said they had made clear they wanted to see progress on the A47 and it was good to hear the consultation would start soon.

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Philip Davie, Highways England's senior responsible officer for the A47, said: 'Work on this project is set to begin in 2020. The scheme is part of a package of improvements for the East of England worth around £1.1bn, which are all being put forward for public consultation. We will soon be launching this public consultation, which I would encourage anyone who has an interest in this work to get involved with to share their views.'

Mr Simpson said MPs has also reiterated the importance of upgrades to the Vauxhall roundabout in Great Yarmouth which would pave the way for improvements to the Acle Straight.

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'It is no good thinking about the Acle Straight before you get the Vauxhall roundabout sorted out,' he said.

Highways bosses also told MPs that 800 of the tiny rare snails living in the dykes next to the Acle Straight, which could hold up work, had been moved and would be monitored for the next four years. Mr Simpson said he did not think dualling of the Acle Straight would take place until the second round of the government road investment strategy, which will come into force in 2020.

'It is very very slow. The money has bee allocated. But they are governed by law.' He said MPs needed to keep up the pressure on ministers, but did not foresee a major legal challenge in Norfolk.

The following schemes have been funded:

A47 North Tuddenham to Easton: dualling to provide continuous dual carriageway between Norwich and Dereham. Combined with the Blofield to North Burlingham scheme, this will provide full dualling between Dereham and Acle.

A47 Wansford to Sutton: dualling the A47 between the A1 and Peterborough.

A47/A12 Great Yarmouth: junction improvements, including reconstruction of the Vauxhall roundabout.

A47/A11 Thickthorn junction: improvement of the interchange to give improved access to Norwich.

A47 Guyhirn: creation of a new larger junction linking the A47 with the A141 in Cambridgeshire.

A47 Acle Straight: safety improvements at key hotspots and work to relocate rare snails which could hold up future upgrades to the stretch of road.

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