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Wed April 24 2024

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Court of Appeal clears Norfolk road schemes to go ahead

23 Feb The Court of Appeal has rejected a legal challenge to three major roads schemes in Norfolk.

The A47 will be dualled between North Tuddenham & Easton
The A47 will be dualled between North Tuddenham & Easton

National Highways secured development consent orders in 2022 to upgrade thee sections of the A47 around Norwich.

Dr Andrew Boswell, an environmentalist and former councillor on both Norfolk County and Norwich City councils, brought court proceedings against the DCOs, challenging the treatment of the schemes as three separate scheme in the planning process, rather than as a single bigger 鈥 and thus more polluting 鈥 entity.

However, three Court of Appeal judges have now upheld the original decisions by the secretary of state for transport to grant the DCOs.

Their judgment concluded the transport secretary鈥檚 decision to adopt the methodology used by National Highways to assess the cumulative carbon effects of the schemes was not 鈥 as the claimant suggested 鈥 irrational. This was because it included consideration of the total cumulative emissions on the affected road network, which were in line with legal requirements of relevant carbon budgets, at a point where all three schemes would be in place 鈥 and this detail formed a fundamental element of the decision to grant development consent.

Dr Boswell has 28 days to consider whether to make an application to the Supreme Court if he wishes to continue to challenge the judgment.

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鈥疶he three National Highways A47 road improvement schemes are:

  • dual carriageway and junctions on the A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham
  • dual carriageway and junctions on the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton
  • redevelopment of Thickthorn junction (where A47 meets the A11 south of Norwich).

Galliford Try is main contractor for the two dual carriageway schemes, with initial contract values of 拢90m for the Blofield-North Burlingham stretch and 拢250m for North Tuddenham-Easton. It was also originally appointed for the Thickthorn junction redevelopment but after costs escalated from an initial 拢50m-拢100m range to 拢161m, National Highways decided to retender. That process is ongoing. [See previous report here.]

Work on all three schemes had been expected to start shortly after their DCO decisions in 2022, but this was put on hold pending the outcome of legal challenges.鈥疶hese projects should have all been completed by the end of next year but have been delayed by more than 20 months.

The original completion date for the Blofield scheme was summer 2024. The Tuddenham upgrade was due to open to traffic in winter 2025, and the Thickthorn junction improvements were scheduled to be finished in the early part of 2025.

National Highways said that it will now work with its contractors to establish new timescales, including the start of major construction, for all three projects. This will be announced over the coming weeks, it said.

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