Greens Claim Western Link Costs Are Massively Underestimated

18 March 2019

Green councillors are warning Norfolk County Council decision makers that the forecast costs for a proposed Western Link around Norwich are being greatly underestimated.

Councillor Denise Carlo, Leader of the Green Group on Norwich City Council, said:

“The county council’s consultation shows an estimate of £161 million for Option D, which circles the city near Ringland. However, this route could cost around £300 million for a route involving complex engineering.”

Councillor Carlo also made the point that the county council was using the building of more houses and an industrial park to justify a Western Link:

“The county’s traffic modelling shows that the current amount of traffic using roads in this area does not justify the high financial and environmental costs of a road crossing, although there may be pinch points at certain times of day. Road promoters have boosted the figures by saying that 4 000 new homes and an industrial park large enough to supply between 3000 and 5000 jobs will be built close to where the Western Link would connect with the A47. Furthermore, the costs quoted are at 2017 prices, and don’t include the cost of buying land. There’s no way this scheme could be completed within budget.”

Councillor Carlo continued:

“It’s not possible to work out the cost or the specific benefits of a new road until its design has been finalised. In this case, the quicker journey times become, the more expensive the road is likely to be. The real extent of proposed development in this area needs to be taken into account. All Western Link routes would cause irreversible environmental harm to the Wensum and Tud valleys, promote major traffic-generating development in a rural area, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and suck up public money.

 

“Option D, which is favoured by Broadland District Council, would involve a high-level viaduct across the Wensum Valley, a Tud Valley bridge crossing, a junction with the proposed new A47, a junction with the existing A47 carriageway, a junction with the A1067, a junction with the NDR and dualling of the A1067! That’s an awful lot of new concrete spread over our beautiful county.”

 

Notes:

1.     Councillor Carlo will be proposing a motion to Norwich City Council on Tuesday evening, to reverse the recent decision of cabinet and advise Norfolk County Council that the city council opposes the principle of the proposal to construct the Norwich Western Link.

 

2.     Norwich City Council’s Labour Cabinet met at 5.30pm on Wednesday 16th January.  The Cabinet agreed the report to recommend that the council ‘fully supports the principal (sic) of the proposal to construct the Norwich Western Link’.

 

3.     Norwich Western Link Options Assessment Report (WSP, Oct 2018)  for assessing green options on an individual basis rather than as part of a large package of measures:

https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/-/media/34B8B53FDF06490B95680DA9566C1B7E 

 

4.     Most of the River Wensum, from its source to Hellesdon Mill, is designated a Special Area of Conservation(SAC).  The 2014 Scoping Study Report (Mott MacDonald) notes that the Wensum is the only river designated as a SAC in the East of England and that this would compare with a Grade 1 Listed Building of similar importance to Norwich Cathedral.   Protected creatures such as water voles and otters have been recorded along stretches of the Wensum and Tud valleys crossed by the four Western Link route options.

 

5.     The benefit cost ratio of a road scheme is calculated by comparing the financial and other costs of building a road to the economic benefits of a road which are largely calculated by adding up journey time savings (each minute saved is given an economic value), fuel  cost savings and accident savings. 

 

6.     The Options Assessment Report by WSP (Oct 2018) indicates that the junctions would be grade separated.  The table showing the costs benefit ratio increasing from 'medium' to high says that the ratio increases when the junctions are made grade separated (page 122).






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