Western Link Road 'crucial for the economy' landowner says
- Credit: Adrian Judd/Archant Norfolk 2010
The Norwich Western Link (NWL) will enable economic growth and safer roads, a Norfolk landowner and farmer has said.
Ian Alston, of Honigham Thorpe Farms, said having good access to trunk roads was a “key ingredient” for food companies, like his Food Enterprise Park, for distribution, without which investors will simply go elsewhere.
“I cannot overemphasise the importance to Norfolk’s economy of this crucial new link road,” he said.
“Investors need food facilities near trunk roads and near towns and cities.
“If Norfolk fails to deliver these basic infrastructure needs then the food companies will simply not create employment here and will invest in Cambridgeshire, for example, where our competitors will happily accommodate them.”
Alongside the business benefits, Mr Alston said the road will also improve safety for motorists and local villagers, with less rat running and vehicles able to avoid congestion in residential areas around Norwich.
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Mr Alston said farm machinery has grown in size over the years, and they “gain no pleasure” from transporting this equipment through narrow village roads, which is an inconvenience to others.
He added: “Historically we would have hauled thousands of loads of sugar beet from Honingham to Cantley for months on end through Norwich via the ring road. The Southern Bypass has removed that traffic and the missing link will potentially bring similar benefits for Norwich and surrounding communities in our view.”
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One criticism often levelled at the NWL is its environmental impact.
Mr Alston said he accepted some impacts would be undesirable but he had “every confidence” in Norfolk County Council addressing the concerns.
Responding to Mr Alston’s points, David Pett, from the Stop the Wensum Link group, said there were more effective means of addressing local congestion and that transport needed a holistic strategy.
"Looking to resolve ‘rat running’ in, for example, Ringland will only serve to move the problem elsewhere,” he said.
“It is too simplistic to think a new road will provide a total solution. We need more progressive thinking.”
Mr Pett suggested improving existing roads to increase capacity for public transport and routes encouraging cycling and walking.
He added: “Research shows that tangible economic benefit very rarely stems from road construction."