Protesters gather ahead of key Norwich Western Link decisions
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
Protests have been held ahead of key decisions today over the future of the controversial £198m Norwich Western Link road.
Members of the Stop The Wensum Link group and Norwich Friends of the Earth were campaigners who held up placards at the entrance to the Norfolk Showground this morning (Monday, June 7).
The Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council cabinet started its meeting at 10am to agree to submit the outline business case for the 3.9-mile road, to connect the Northern Distributor Road to the A47 to the west of Norwich.
The council's cabinet is also due to agree to award a contract to build the road.
Council leaders say the scheme will boost Norfolk's economy and cut rat-running in places such as Costessey and Weston Longville.
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Businesses, including Norwich International Airport, Chantry Place and First buses support it, as do the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce.
Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, has said the road scores highly on value for money criteria used by the Department for Transport, while an extra £22m is to be spent on further environmental mitigation, including more green bridges and tunnels for wildlife.
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But it is opposed by groups such as Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk Rivers Trust, the Campaign To Protect Rural England and The Bat Conservation Trust.
The Labour group at Norfolk County Council, along with the Greens are against it. Questions about the scheme have been tabled for the cabinet meeting.
Emma Corlett, deputy leader of the Labour group, said on top of the £198m bill, officers had confirmed an estimated £19.2m would be added in interest on money the council would borrow to cover some of the scheme's costs - assuming the government agrees to cover 85pc of the total.
The cabinet meeting will be followed, at 2pm, by a subsequent decision to be taken by the full council.
County council meetings are currently taking place at the Norfolk Showground due to coronavirus social distancing requirements and because work on the council chamber at County Hall is continuing.