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No dualling of Acle Straight before 2015

PUBLISHED: 10:30 13 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:02 03 July 2010

Campaigners battling to dual the Acle Straight revealed their frustration last night that the scheme has been put back again - to beyond 2015.

The scheme to dual the link at North Burlingham was once set to begin two years ago with national government cash but missed out after ministers introduced a new funding pot for regional schemes - forcing transport chiefs to go cap in hand for a share of the cash.

Campaigners battling to dual the Acle Straight revealed their frustration last night that the scheme has been put back again - to beyond 2015.

The scheme to dual the link at North Burlingham was once set to begin two years ago with national government cash but missed out after ministers introduced a new funding pot for regional schemes - forcing transport chiefs to go cap in hand for a share of the cash.

Now the East of England Regional Assembly (Eera) is overhauling the way regional transport schemes are being prioritised as costs outstrip the cash available.

While lending support to A11 dualling and the Norwich northern bypass, the assembly has ruled that dozens of other schemes, including the A47 Acle Straight, Long Stratton bypass, and Yarmouth third river crossing, will effectively have to go back into the pot afresh for consideration beyond 2015.

The decision is the latest knock-back for A47 dualling after Euro MP Robert Sturdy last year obtained evidence that the road was being downgraded as a transeuropean link because of lack of support from the UK government.

With the Yarmouth outer harbour due to open in the summer and a recent decision to expand the Cantley sugar plant, supporters of dualling believe it is essential to dual the road.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said that while Norfolk had done well in other areas, he was disappointed that the A47 had slipped down the pecking order.

Gorleston councillor Bertie Collins, was angry that concerns over the environmental impact of dualling had also hampered progress. “We are going to have 250-300 lorries coming into Yarmouth; that's going to be a hell of a mess,” he said. “The dualling of the A47 was stopped because the tadpoles were having a nice time - I have never heard so much rubbish!”

But Green county councillor Andrew Boswell said while he shared the concerns about the extra freight traffic on the road because of the outer harbour and the Cantley expansion, policymakers should look to the railways to take the strain.

“I do think safety on that road is an issue,” he said. “What should have happened is that the freight options should have been looked at from Yarmouth, particularly getting the rail head out to the outer harbour and then linking it either to the national rail system via Norwich or Lowestoft,” he said.

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