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Final say on A11 dualling

PUBLISHED: 10:46 20 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:24 03 July 2010

Waiting game: The busy section of the A11 heading from Thetford southbound towards Elveden, which campaigners want dualled.

Waiting game: The busy section of the A11 heading from Thetford southbound towards Elveden, which campaigners want dualled.

Campaigners for a fully dualled A11 will have to wait at least another month to hear whether a public inquiry will take place into completing the missing link between Norwich and London.

Campaigners for a fully dualled A11 will have to wait at least another month to hear whether a public inquiry will take place into completing the missing link between Norwich and London.

Highways officials were last night compiling the results of a 17-week public consultation exercise into the upgrade of the final single carriageway stretch of the road between Thetford and Barton Mills.

The final planning hurdle for the £127m scheme now rests in the hands of secretary of state for transport Geoff Hoon, who has four weeks to decide whether a public inquiry is necessary.

It comes after a consultation period ended yesterday with Highways Agency officials revealing that they had received 50 responses and a “number” of objections to the nine mile dualling project, which would bypass the village of Elveden.

The organisation declined to disclose the nature or volume of the concerns, but had previously extended the public consultation deadline by a month to overcome objections.

A Highways Agency spokeswoman said the 50 responses were a mixture of negative, positive, and neutral comments.

“A number of objections have been received and the Highways Agency is working to address objections where it can. A decision as to whether a public inquiry is needed or not will be made by April 16. The A11 is a heavily used trunk road of regional importance providing major links between East Anglia and the rest of the country,” she said.

Draft orders for the A11 upgrade were published in November after transport secretary Geoff Hoon gave his support to the scheme to help boost the East Anglian economy. It followed decades of campaigning by local politicians and a public petition that was signed by more than 16,000 people.

Work on the dualling scheme is scheduled to start at the end of 2010, but could begin five months earlier if a public inquiry was not required.

Christopher Fraser, MP for South West Norfolk, last night said the end of the consultation was a “milestone” for the A11 project.

“Some objections were to be expected. I am sure that the Highways Agency will bear in mind the urgent need for the construction of a dual carriageway link between Thetford and Fiveways, and work towards solutions that will avoid the need for a time-consuming and costly public inquiry.”

“Constituents have told me they fear the scheme will be put on the backburner yet again. We need the project to move forward as quickly as possible,” he said.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, added: “I'm sure there will be many people in Norfolk fervently hoping the objections can be overcome and that the scheme we have all campaigned so strongly for can proceed without the need for a public inquiry.”

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