Businesses bolster A12 bypass case

Some members of the Four Villages Bypass group campaigning in Farnham in 2014

Some members of the Four Villages Bypass group campaigning in Farnham in 2014 - Credit: Archant

Business leaders gathered to discuss what the future holds for Suffolk’s long-awaited A12 bypass between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

It was the first time enterprise chiefs had convened since the rebranding of the project to divert traffic away from four Suffolk villages.

In a bid to demonstrate the wider potential impact of the scheme on the economy – particularly on the energy and tourism industries – the Four Villages Bypass became known as Suffolk’s Energy Gateway earlier this month.

Yesterday, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce hosted the first of two consultations designed for businesses based along the A12 between Ipswich and Lowestoft to give their perspective on the route.

In 1995, a full bypass scheme was taken through public inquiry by the Highways Agency, but then removed from the spending programme in early 1996 due to national funding constraints.

The Four Villages Bypass group has since been campaigning for a road to detour Stratford St Andrew, Farnham, Marlesford and Little Glemham.

The group argues that a bypass is the only solution to continued congestion, emission and accident problems, which members believe will worsen if Sizewell C power station is built near Leiston.

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It is hoped that renewed impetus behind the project could serve to boost chances of successfully applying for a share of funding from the Department for Transport. The total cost of the project could reach £120million.

Debbi Tayler, a spokeswoman for the group, said: “I think this is very positive progress.

“The ‘rebadging’ of the project demonstrates the potential benefit to local businesses and the wider economy of east Suffolk.

“Standing on the corner, watching the number of lorries battling the bend, just emphasises how important it is that this road happens.”

Nick Burfield, policy director for Suffolk Chamber, said: “This is about more than bypassing the four villages – as important as they are.

“If we gain a stronger identity as Suffolk’s Energy Gateway, it can only strengthen our case.”

The first event was held at Ufford Park, with another planned for February 3, at High Lodge, Darsham, from 7.30am-9.30am.