Legal challenge to £100m road scheme

A legal challenge to a new section of the A47 road in Norfolk has been launched by a campaigner who hopes the case will have national implications for road-building plans.

Lawyers have written to the government ahead of an attempt to obtain a judicial review of the £100m Blofield to North Burlingham project.

The National Highways scheme, due to be built by Galliford Try, would see the construction of a new, 2.6km section of dual carriageway to the south of the existing road.

It is said that the new road will help to ease congestion on the route, which runs partway between Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

The scheme was approved by transport secretary Grant Shapps in June, when he granted its development consent order – the planning permission needed for a nationally significant scheme.

But the way it was assessed is now the subject of the legal challenge by scientist and environmental consultant Andrew Boswell.

He said: “In making his decision, Grant Shapps failed to properly follow environmental regulations for assessing carbon emissions from this A47 scheme with those from other large roads planned for the Norwich area.

“I am taking this case because the same error in assessing carbon is being made on schemes around the country: my case could help ensure the law is followed in making climate impact assessments on road schemes around the UK.”

Other schemes planned in the Norwich area include widening the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton, also a Galliford Try scheme, worth about £90m.

Another is the Norwich Western Link, a £107m project due to be delivered by Ferrovial, which includes building a 6.1km dual carriageway between the A1270 and A47, and a 670-metre-long viaduct over the River Wensum.

National Highways also plans to enlarge the A47’s junction at Thickthorn, close to Norwich.

Some of the legal team working on the case were involved in the successful challenge to the government’s net-zero strategy, which the High Court ruled last month should be amended to show how targets will be met.

A crowdfunding campaign for the legal challenge has raised nearly £8,000 of an initial £12,000 target.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport, which would be the party defending against the Norfolk legal challenge, said it cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

They added: “We have made ambitious pledges to achieve net-zero transport and better connect communities. This includes plans to decarbonise road vehicles, boost public transport and active travel, and cut carbon from road construction, maintenance and operations.”

A National Highways spokesperson said that lowering carbon emissions was a key target for the organisation. Other aims include lowering construction and maintenance emissions to zero by 2040, and lowering road users’ emissions to nothing by 2050.

They added: “These aspects are rightly coming under more scrutiny within the [development consent order] process to ensure any carbon assessments are comprehensive and robust.

“However, we stand by our plans and remain committed to investing almost half a billion pounds on a series of improvements to the A47 across the east of England. These will make the road safer, connect local communities and deliver a huge economic boost to the region.”

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