Planning process has to be followed, MPs told amid pleas to highways boss to get on with A47 upgrade

PUBLISHED: 17:48 22 October 2015 | UPDATED: 19:47 22 October 2015

Improvements planned on the A47. Image: Highways England

Improvements planned on the A47. Image: Highways England

Archant

MPs have urged highways bosses to speed up the process to get spades in the ground on the A47 project and draw up an economic case for full dualling.

At a meeting in Westminster the A47 upgrade project manager Oluwole Odetola told MPs a proper process had to be followed as upgrade work would most likely need to go to the planning inspectorate.

Updating parliamentarian he said the public were likely to be consulted on options currently being drawn up late next year, but the planning process was likely to take 18 months meaning construction work would not start until 2020.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who organised the meeting, said MPs were concerned about “time slippage” and it was important work started on some of the six schemes which span from Wansford in Cambridgeshire to the A12 in the east “much sooner”.

“Burlingham to Blofield, Tuddenham to Easton and junction improvements in and around Great Yarmouth and the old A12 could be done much sooner,” he said..

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “We need a firm commitment to at least one scheme starting before 2020. It would send a signal. But we must not lose the political commitment at the highest level to dual the entire road from the coast to Peterborough and the A1.”

South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss added: “Along with my fellow MPs we want the A47 fully dualled and I have asked Highways England to present the economic case for this. The £300m investment announced in December 2014 is a fantastic boost for the area and will certainly help to ease the pressure on the route but I am keen to ensure there are no unnecessary delays in getting the work started.

But Mr Odetola said: “We have got the message from the MPs. We are aware they want the road to be built as quickly as possible and we acknowledge the effort that has been put in to the scheme in terms of campaigning for the scheme.”

But he said they were going through a “statutory process”.

“If we have the chance to accelerate some of the schemes then we would do that, but it has to be based on evidence. At the moment with the level of information we have that start date would be 2020,” he added.

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