The Norwich Western Link: The story so far
- Credit: Norfolk County Council
As questions are asked about what the Norwich Western Link could end up costing, this is how we got to this point.
When the Norwich Northern Distributor Road was originally mooted, almost 20 years ago, council bosses wanted it to link to the A47 to the west of Norwich.
But that idea was dropped due to the cost of crossing the Wensum Valley, a site of special scientific interest, with Natural England and the Environment Agency raising concerns.
So the NDR currently stops at the A1067 Fakenham Road.
But the council always made clear it could revive that so-called missing link to the A47 and, in 2016, it was made one of the Conservative-controlled council's priorities.
Three years later, the council's cabinet agreed a preferred route for the road.
That 3.9 mile road would go from the A1067, near the NDR, travelling halfway between Weston Longville and Ringland.
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It would link to the A47 at a new junction at Wood Lane near Honingham, with a 720-metre-long viaduct over the River Wensum.
Public consultation over the idea of the road was done in 2018 and further consultation on some elements of the scheme took place last year.
Supporters of the road include the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Norwich Airport, Norfolk Fire and Rescue, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Road Haulage Association, First buses and a number of district councils.
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Council leaders say it would bring economic benefits and ease rat-running and they would mitigate for any environmental impact.
But there is vigorous opposition. Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Norfolk Rivers Trust have expressed concerns about the wildlife impacts of the chosen route.
The Labour group at Norfolk County Council is opposing the road, while Norwich City Council withdrew its 'in principle" support for the road in January.
The Department for Transport gave conditional support last summer and the green light to proceed to the next stage of the national process.
But permission and funding has yet to be secured. The council needs to submit a business case to the government, but that has been delayed three times.