Norfolk senior councillor dodges NDR road emission concerns

Green Councillor Jamie Osborn repeatedly asked about the NDR's climate emissions

Green Councillor Jamie Osborn repeatedly asked about the NDR's climate emissions - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk cabinet member repeatedly dodged a question over whether a new road had increased carbon emissions.

At Monday's county council meeting, Martin Wilby was asked several times by Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn if he accepted government data that the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) had led to an increase in climate-changing emissions.

However, Mr Wilby, the cabinet member for transport, answered by talking about the wrong road, instead, he addressed the Norwich Western Link (NWL).

The NDR, also known as the Broadland Northway, is a 12.4 mile stretch of road completed in April 2018. 

Since the road was completed the council has wanted to complete the missing section, dubbed the NWL, a 3.9mile, £198m road, planned to connect the NDR to the A47.

Norfolk County Council chamber

Norfolk County Council chamber - Credit: George Thompson

Mr Wilby said: "The NWL is a priority for this council and by building it, it will take all the traffic out of the west of Norwich."

Mr Osborn repeated his question, asking for a yes or no answer.

The cabinet member again did not say if the road had increased emissions, he said: "The NDR is doing exactly what it meant to do - it is taking the traffic out of the north of Norwich.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. - Credit: Simon Parkin

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"By taking traffic out of there it is improving the air quality in the city, cutting congestion, more reliable journey times, it's a big asset for this county."

Mr Osborn asked three more times if the road increased carbon emissions before being reprimanded by the council's chairwoman, conservative councillor Penny Carpenter, who said he was testing her patience. 

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Osborn explained the data came from a 2021 government dataset looking at CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2019.

The data shows Broadland A road emissions were 114.4 kilotonnes (kt) of CO2 in 2017 before the road opened, jumping to 133kt in 2019 a year after it was completed.

Jamie Osborn, Green city and county councillor.

Jamie Osborn, Green city and county councillor. - Credit: Jamie Osborn

In comparison, Norwich reduced from 60.8kt to 52.6kt.

Mr Osborn said: "The increase in Broadland, which coincides with the opening of the NDR, was about two times the decrease in Norwich."

Emissions on minor roads stayed relatively level in both areas across the same period.

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