Inspectors prepare to give verdict on A47 dualling as deadlines approach

What changes to the A47 would look like at Blofield looking towards Acle. Picture: Highways England

What changes to the A47 would look like at Blofield looking towards Acle. Picture: Highways England - Credit: Highways England

Inspectors are about to make key recommendations which will determine whether millions of pounds will be spent on sections of the A47 in Norfolk.

National Highways is seeking development consent orders - the go-ahead from the government - for work on three stretches of the road, as part of a £300m project.

Sections between North Tuddenham and Easton and from Blofield to North Burlingham would be dualled, while changes would be made to the A47/A11 junction at Thickthorn, on the edge of Norwich.

Thickthorn Roundabout July 2020. Picture: Mike Page

Thickthorn Roundabout. - Credit: Mike Page

A string of public hearings have taken place in recent months to help planning inspectors decide whether or not to recommend that transport secretary Grant Shapps, who has the final decision, should approve the schemes.

The newly named co-chairman of the Conservative Party Grant Shapps leaves No 10 Downing Street in ce

Transport secretary Grant Shapps. - Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The examinations of the dualling schemes have already concluded and the Thickthorn examination is due to come to a close next week.

Planning inspector Alex Hutson already confirmed he would make his recommendation over the section between Blofield and North Burlingham by next Tuesday.

That would see the existing single-lane section replaced with a new 1.6-mile dual carriageway, 70m south of the existing road.

Inspector Adrian Hunter, conducting the examination of the Easton to North Tuddenham scheme has confirmed his recommendation will be made no later than May 12.

The A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton.

The A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton. - Credit: Highways England

That would see just over five-and-a-half miles of the road dualled.

The Thickthorn scheme includes a new slip road off the A11 northbound, which would take motorists beneath both roads before rejoining traffic on the A47 heading towards Great Yarmouth - eliminating the need to use the roundabout.

Thickthorn Roundabout July 2020. Picture: Mike Page

Thickthorn Roundabout. - Credit: Mike Page

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The recommendations which inspectors make are not made public until after the secretary of state makes decisions.

Mr Shapps can choose to accept the inspectors' recommendations, or could ignore them.

Council leaders have been frustrated at the amount of time it has taken to move the projects forward, with Norfolk County Council's deputy leader Graham Plant saying five years had been "completely wasted".

However, critics of the road schemes, who say the environmental cost is too great, will be hoping Mr Shapps does not give the go-ahead.