Delay prompts fresh calls to scrap £153m Norwich Western Link

Artist's impression of a viaduct which could take the Western Link over the River Wensum. Photo: Nor

Artist's impression of a viaduct which could take the Western Link over the River Wensum. Photo: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Campaigners against the Norwich Western Link have made fresh calls for it to be scrapped - after the submission of the business case for it was pushed back again.

Norfolk County Council's controlling Conservative cabinet was initially due to agree the business case for the £153m road, which would connect the Norwich Northern Distributor Road from the A1067 Fakenham Road to the A47 west of the city, in December last year.

The route of the proposed Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

The route of the proposed Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

But that was then postponed to the cabinet meeting of January 12. However, it will not be discussed there and is now pencilled in for March.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: "The procurement process for the Norwich Western Link project is still ongoing.

"Rather than providing a report on the business case alone, it is considered advantageous to cover all matters in a single report to cabinet in March – which, of course, will also include details of the appointment of a contractor for the project."

The chosen route, between Weston Longville and Ringland, would include a 720-metre-long viaduct over the River Wensum.


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But Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Norfolk Rivers Trust all raised objections, due to the impact on wildlife habitats and the landscape.

Woodland near Ringland in the Wensum valley, where the western link road to the Northern Broadway (N

Woodland near Ringland in the Wensum valley, where the western link road to the Northern Broadway (NDR) would be built. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

They are also unconvinced at the council's claim new woodland and wetland will lead to a net gain for biodiversity.

And independent bat experts, Wild Wings Ecology, have identified a breeding colony of barbastelle bats on the route, although the council says no such roosts have been identified in its own surveys.

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And Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at County Hall, said the cost of the road is going up all the time.

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRAD

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

He said: "Every month of delay adds about a quarter of a million to the cost of the scheme, so we're probably looking at £1m more just in the extra time it's taking to submit the business case.

"They should scrap it. The environmental case is stacking up against it and it's completely at odds with the council's wider environmental strategy."

Supporters of the scheme, including businesses, say it will cut congestion and boost the economy.

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