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Anger as A47 Acle Straight dualling ruled out for at least a decade

PUBLISHED: 14:11 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:37 16 September 2020

The dualling of the Acle Straight has not been included in schemes to be done between 2025 and 2030. Picture: Nick Butcher

The dualling of the Acle Straight has not been included in schemes to be done between 2025 and 2030. Picture: Nick Butcher

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The long called for dualling of the A47 Acle Straight will not happen for at least another decade, it has been announced, after it was not included in the government’s next wave of road schemes.

Norfolk Labour county councillor Colleen Walker. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYNorfolk Labour county councillor Colleen Walker. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The announcement sparked anger from county councillors, with some frustrated they are now unlikely to see the road between Acle and Great Yarmouth dualled during their lifetimes.

The road had not been included in the government’s road investment strategy for 2020-25, but campaigners had hoped it would be included in the next phase for schemes from 2025 to 2030.

But, at a meeting today, officials from Highways England revealed the dualling of the Acle Straight had not been included in the next tranche of schemes.

Peter Havlicek, Highways England programme lead for the A47, told Norfolk County Council’s infrastructure and development committee that the scheme was not included in the next round - and its next chance of getting into the government’s thinking was not until 2030 to 2040.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure. Picture: Simon ParkinMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure. Picture: Simon Parkin

Mr Havlicek said: “The Acle Straight as it currently stands is not in the next tranche of potential projects coming through.

“I know there’s a tremendous amount of lobbying that has been taken place by a lot of businesses and local authorities on various improvements on the A47.”
He said a junction on the A1101 Elm Road, near Peterborough is the only A47 scheme which is in the next tranche.

Colleen Walker, Labour councillor for Magdalen division in Yarmouth, said: “I don’t know what to say. This has been going on for so long. We go round and round in circles. We have had the snails fiasco, They have moved them and they are our thriving. I just don’t know, I give up on it.”

That was a reference to the Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snail - which is on an international ‘red list’ of endangered species - and which lives in dykes along the Acle Straight.

They had been relocated and a study running until 2023 is checking that the relocation has been successful.

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Barry Stone, Conservative chairman of the committee, said: “We’ve always said never in our lifetime and it looks like that’s going to be the case.

“All we can do is carry on with the lobbying, which we are doing and that’s the best we can do at the moment.”

Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We won’t give up on getting the Acle Straight dualled. We all recognise how dangerous that road is and how much we need the improvements.”

The dualling of the Acle Straight was one of the key demands of the Just Dual It! campaign spearheaded by the EDP, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce.

However, the news the Acle Straight has not been included was hailed as “brilliant news” by Car-Free Norwich.

They tweeted: “If it’s another decade then it will never happen - increasing roads only increases traffic levels.
“Instead, we need to get as many people as possible out of private cars, with public transport and active travel investment.”

Another announcement from the meeting was over improvements to roundabouts in Great Yarmouth.

Last year Highways England had said they needed to look again at the designs for the Vauxhall and Gapton roundabouts at Great Yarmouth - because of the potential traffic impact from the mooted Third River Crossing.

That delayed work starting on improvements to those junctions - part of a £300m package for the A47 - which angered county councillors.

However, in the past few days, Highways England has agreed to work with the county council to develop the most appropriate scheme.

They are now in discussion regarding the various stages of work, with the first stage - a report documenting the problems at Vauxhall roundabout - now under way. The work will also look at the Harfrey’s roundabout.


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