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Call for impact of NDR A47 'missing link' on River Wensum in Norwich to be investigated

PUBLISHED: 17:05 09 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:05 09 July 2018

City councillors want the impact of the Western Link on the river Wensum in Norwich to be investigated. Pic: DENISE BRADLEY

City councillors want the impact of the Western Link on the river Wensum in Norwich to be investigated. Pic: DENISE BRADLEY

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The 'missing link' which would connect the Broadland Northway to the A47 to the west of the city is likely to get support from Norwich councillors - but concerns remain over the impact on the River Wensum.

Consultation asking for views on transport issues following the opening of the £205m road, previously known as the Norwich Northern Distributor Road recently closed, with more than 1,700 people having their say.

The road currently ends at the A1067 Fakenham, but Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council has made linking it with the A47 - known as the Western Link - a priority.

Previous options to link it were dropped due to the cost of crossing the Wensum Valley, a site of special scientific interest, although the council believes a solution, such as a £160m viaduct, can be found to the concerns previously raised.

The council would need to obtain permission and funding and officers will spend the summer analysing the responses to the now-closed consultation before deciding what to do next.

But, on Wednesday, Norwich City Council’s Labour cabinet will meet to discuss the link and is set to agree to fully support the scheme - so long as certain conditions are met.

One is that there is a thorough assessment of the environmental impacts which any scheme would have on the river Wensum in Norwich itself is carried out.

The council recently completed the River Wensum Strategy which aims to breathe new life into the city’s river, with a river festival among the events planned.

And officers want to make sure that if there is any environmental impact from the western link, that the impact on the river in Norwich is assessed and, if necessary, steps taken to deal with any issues.

The city council is also likely to say any scheme must go hand in hand with other sustainable transport improvements, such as better bus routes, cycle route improvements, upgrades to the inner ring road’s junctions and an increase in electric charging points.

Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “We welcome the city council’s support for the Norwich Western Link project.

“Although we’re at an early stage, with a range of options being assessed, we can say that a fundamental part of the process will be to assess both the environmental impact of any final proposals and the need for supporting transport measures.

“We’re very mindful of potential impact on the Wensum Valley and will make sure environment assessments follow industry best practice and include any mitigation and enhancement measures that need to be embedded into the design.

“We have a successful track record of working with the city through Transport for Norwich (TfN), with many of the recent projects fulfilling strategic improvements that go hand in hand with completion of the Broadland Northway.

“Separately from the Western Link, we are working together on a review of the TfN strategy to make sure transport proposals reflect the city’s needs into the future.

A recent joint-bid to the DfT’s Transforming Cities fund also shows our commitment to secure investment in a sustainable transport network that supports growth in homes, jobs and the local economy across Norwich.”

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