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Roads to Nowhere

New analysis shows Council concealing depth of opposition to road plan

31 January 2014
Independent analysis has found Norfolk County Council is concealing the full level of public opposition to the controversial Norwich Distributor Road (NDR) with campaigners demanding that plans for the road be rejected.

In its planning application for the NDR, the Council claimed 460 (31 per cent) public consultation responses had objected to the plans. But the new analysis overseen by John Greenaway, Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of East Anglia, found this was a significant underestimate, with 885 (59 per cent) responses expressing serious concerns or opposing the plan outright. Only 224 (15 per cent) respondents supported the NDR.

Sian Berry, Roads Campaigner at national charity Campaign for Better Transport said:

“It is clear from the consultation that Norfolk County Council does not have a mandate for the NDR.”

The council is attempting to fast track planning for the new road. Its assessment of public opinion has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) as a formal part of this process. Campaigners say the new analysis reveals one of a number of significant flaws and that the application should be rejected.

Details of the new analysis have been submitted to PINS by the Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group (NNTAG). PINS has a deadline of Tuesday (4th Feb) to decide whether to accept the council's application.

Denise Carlo of NNTAG commented:

“The consultation shows a substantial majority against the submitted NDR scheme which Norfolk County Council has sought to conceal in its presentation of the results.  The County Council has also tried to minimise the depth and extent of people’s concerns over the environmental and traffic impacts of the road”.        

Ian Shepherd of CPRE Norfolk added:

"CPRE Norfolk have felt for some time that the County Council were not listening to those who had objections to the NDR - nor to the massive development planned around it. The responses made by those who have taken the time to 'give their view' should be required reading for our local politicians".

The community groups are calling on the Planning Inspectorate to not accept the NDR application for examination.

Councillor Alf Townly of Great & Little Plumstead Parish Council which opposes the NDR said:

“It is clear the majority of people do not want the NDR.  Making the NDR ‘nationally significant’ would encourage even greater traffic growth along the NDR and local feeder roads, whilst road closures would lead to longer journey times.  Villages along the road would suffer noise, air and light pollution, with all the associated heath risks.  Plumstead would suffer in particular by being cut in two.”

Notes

1. Norfolk County Council held a public consultation between 8 July and 20 September on whether the NDR should be fast tracked though the planning process as a “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project” (NSIP).

2. Detailed assessment of the 1,492 returns show that 635 respondents objected to the NDR in principle and a further 250 expressed serious concerns about the three quarters route (a total of 885). Eight of the seventeen parish councils which responded oppose the NDR and seven advocated a full route. By contrast, only 224 respondents supported the NDR.

The County’s figures were: 460 against; 171 in favour and 349 wanting a A1067-A47 link.

Few individual businesses wrote in to support the NDR even though the County Council claims that the NDR would boost the local economy by billions of pounds

3. Before the consultation ended on 20 September, the Secretary of State directed that the NDR should be treated as an NSIP at the request of Norfolk County Council on grounds that the road would connect Norwich Airport to Great Yarmouth Enterprise Centre via the A47-T. The Minister’s letter was dated 9 August although it was not made public until 19 August.

4. NNTAG members spent several days reading through all 1,492 community responses; they recorded each one, analysed the results and compared them against the County Council’s assessment in a Consultation Report submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 7 January as part of its application for Development Consent.

5. The Planning Inspectorate must decide whether to accept the NDR application by 4 February.