A11 dualling public inquiry starts

THE first day of a public enquiry into the dualling of the last stage of the A11 opened yesterday with statements from supporting parties.

THE first day of a public enquiry into the dualling of the last stage of the A11 opened yesterday with statements from supporting parties.

If given the go-ahead, the nine-mile stretch between Thetford and the Fiveways Barton Mills roundabout would become a dual carriageway under plans put forward by the Highways Agency.

But various objections have been submitted which has led to a public inquiry before government planning inspectorate Neil Taylor.

Mr Taylor will hear from a number of objectors and supporters over the next two weeks before he submits a recommendation to the secretary of state who will make a final decision.

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Following the withdrawal of objections from Natural England and the RSPB, five individuals and a major landowner, the Elveden Estate, remain as objectors to the scheme.

Others have also raised concerns about the impact of the increased number of vehicles on one of the region's busiest junctions, the Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills.

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But the inquiry heard from a number of Highways Agency representatives, who cited the road as of “key importance” and said the scheme would improve traffic flow and reduce accidents.

Andrew Merritt, transport planner for the scheme, said the A11 provided a strategic route linking Cambridge, London, Stansted Airport and the southeast with Norwich and the east coast ports, and was “of key importance to commuter and freight traffic.”

He added: “The assessment has demonstrated the traffic, economic and safety benefits of the scheme. Capacity will be increased substantially, delays reduced and journey time significantly improved.

“The dualling and removal of direct access will remove vehicle conflict and improve road safety. The bypassing of Elveden will provide substantial environmental and economic benefits. Stopping up of side roads will reduce accidents.”

The inquiry was shown a film of what the route would look like if given the go-ahead which included an aerial view of the Fiveways roundabout and a bypass at the junction with the B1112.

Nick Clark, principle ecologist for the scheme, said the impact on wildlife would be mitigated and following an agreement with Natural England and the RSPB it was considered that they would suffer no adverse effects.

He went on to say that 176 hectares of land would be purchased by the highways agency to compensate for about 10 Stone Curlew nests which would be affected.

Leyton Davis, an expert in noise and vibration, went on to outline that potential noise increases to nearby properties would also be mitigated, with eight houses experiencing slight increases in noise, and 19 which would see a noise decrease.

The inquiry continues today.

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