Fears as farm purchase brings the Western Link closer
PUBLISHED: 16:16 03 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 03 February 2020
Controversial new transport proposals have been stepped up after councillors agreed to spend more than £1.2m buying a farm along the potential route of the Norwich Western Link road.
County councillors signed off on the purchase of Pump Farm, in Weston Longville - which is set to cost £1,250,000 of taxpayers' money - at a cabinet meeting, which also saw environmental protestors threatened with removal for raising fears over the impact on woodlands and wildlife.
The proposed route would see the new Northern Distributor Road (NDR), known as the Broadland Northway, join the A47 at Honingham, and pass through the Wensum Valley, which is rich in wildlife and protected species.
Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, told councillors the project was a priority and asked them to agree plans to contract the project out and undergo a process of public consultation.
Greg Peck, county councillor for Reepham, said: "As the member who has the whole of this route through my division, I obviously support these recommendations.
"I'm pleased to see there will be wider public consultation because there are residents who are more affected than others. However I'm in favour because the majority of my constituents are suffering from the large amount of rat running through their village."
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And he added that the council had agreed to plant one million trees, but was interrupted by shouts from the public gallery.
Jen Parkhouse said: "[That's] impossible. How many are you cutting down in the woodland?"
She added: "How about mitigation measures? They don't work on the NDR. What about the badgers? What about the bats?"
Council leader Andrew Proctor said: ""This is a meeting in public, not a public meeting. I'm happy to take questions but I don't really want to hear people shouting out."
He added: "If you do keep shouting out, I regret I will have to ask you to leave."
Later in the meeting, Mr Peck, cabinet member for commercial services and asset management, said the purchase of the 13-acres was necessary as the proposed new road ran through the farm and equestrian business.
"I'd like to ask cabinet to agree to purchase Plum Farm for £1.25m and instruct the head of property to oversee the purchase," he said.
Councillors voted in favour of agreeing to the purchase and the contract and consultation process.