A47 Rat-Running Campaign and Taskforce

I have long campaigned for much needed improvements to Norfolk (and the East)’s infrastructure.

With the exciting growth of the nearby Norwich Research Park, A11 Tech Corridor and countless businesses (small, medium and large) in our area, I believe that the area between Dereham-Norwich-Wymondham, in particular, has the potential to become the “Norwich Research Triangle” – an area with a bright future based on lots of small start-up companies that creates exciting jobs and opportunities and spreads the prosperity further to the likes of Watton and other “left behind” towns which need a boost. Norfolk in general though has the chance to unlock its full economic potential.

George Freeman MP

That’s why I (along with my fellow parliamentary colleagues, local councils, community groups and the business community) have been so vocal about improving our region’s digital and transport networks. Good connectivity is key if we are to grasp this wonderful opportunity properly and ensure vibrant communities for ourselves and future generations to come.

We’ve already made some excellent achievements – the dualling of the A11 and the roll-out of superfast broadband to, now, just over 95% of Norfolk to name just two! However, a big part of this vision going forward is achieving full dualling of the A47, as well as securing the Norwich Western Link (to connect the NDR to the A47 west of Norwich).

While I am pleased that Highways England will finally be getting on with the £300 million A47 improvements between North Tuddenham and Easton that I helped to secure, and am delighted to see Norfolk County Council driving forward positive work on the campaign to deliver the Norwich Western Link, I share the profound local concerns that the delivery of these projects could lead to a surge in rat-running through many of the communities between the proposed Berry’s Lane/Wood Lane junction at Honingham and Wymondham/even further afield (including the likes of Honingham, East Tuddenham, Barnham Broom, Kimberley, Carleton Forehoe, Coston, Welborne, Brandon Parva, Runhall, Wicklewood and Wymondham).

Map

Although these infrastructure improvements will represent massive progress for our area, it is vital that we ensure that a proper strategic plan is put in place to prevent these likely rat-running problems. We cannot sacrifice some of our most picturesque villages to ever more congestion, as well as greater levels of pollution and environmental damage, simply because we have not thought to look at the likely challenges ahead. It’s the quality of life, beautiful landscape and community spirit that makes Norfolk so special!

Back in October, at the request of a number of local Parish Councils, I attended a public meeting at St Peter’s Church in Kimberley to hear in greater detail their concerns about this potential increase in rat-running through our rural communities. It was decided that a local Taskforce would be created to co-ordinate the villages affected and work with local councillors, county and district officers, Highways England officials, the A47 Alliance and countryside groups to oversee the development of a proper Plan around the works – aimed at mitigating any likely rat-running and minimising the impact on local communities.

I am thrilled that, at a meeting earlier this year, the Taskforce received confirmation from Norfolk County Council that they were looking to expand their traffic survey work in Mid Norfolk – to better understand the possible traffic impacts both during and after the construction works for both projects. A map of proposed sites for this additional work was provided (and a link to it can be found at the bottom of the page).

Since that meeting earlier this year, Highways England have carried out the next public consultation for the North Tuddenham-Easton project, and are working through the findings. The local Taskforce encouraged local residents and communities to submit their views both to that consultation and directly to themselves as the Taskforce – then using the feedback obtained to make a formal submission to Highways England on how they would like to see the crucial new Wood Lane/Berry’s Lane junction designed.

At the most recent meeting earlier this month, I am pleased to report that Highways England gave the first indications of how their public consultation has gone – alluding to certain alterations to their original plans for the critical junction that will be made as a result of local feedback. (I await further news of that with interest) I also welcomed a commitment by Highways England and Norfolk County Council Highways to now develop a proper plan for community engagement over the coming months – one that will allow them to ensure the views of local people form the basis of the mitigation measures that will be required, and add to the consultation work that will hopefully allow Highways England to get the plans for the Wood Lane/Berry’s Lane junction correct.

More work lies ahead, but I am firmly commitment to supporting the local communities concerned on this issue.

If you have any points you would like to raise, please do send them to me directly and to the A47 Taskforce group at A47taskforce@outlook.com

 

For further information, please see the links and details below.

Map of proposed sites for additional traffic survey work (produced by Norfolk County Council):

NCC Traffic Survey Sites

Highways England’s first proposals for the layout of the new Wood Lane/Berry’s Lane junction at Honingham:

Highways England’s proposed layout for new Wood Lane/Berry’s Lane junction at Honingham

Norfolk County Council’s next consultation on the Norwich Western Link will commence later this year.

| Taskforce Meeting Notes