Horse riders angry at A11 dualling

ANGRY horse riders have threatened to call a public inquiry over plans to dual the final stretch of the A11 - unless transport chiefs agree to include a special crossing in the scheme.

Will Clarke

ANGRY horse riders have threatened to call a public inquiry over plans to dual the final stretch of the A11 - unless transport chiefs agree to include a special crossing in the scheme.

Protestors from the British Horse Society and Federation of Suffolk Byways and Bridleways said they would lodge formal objections to the nine-mile dualling project between Barton Mills and Thetford unless the Highways Agency added a bridge or underpass to allow riders and cyclists to cross safely.

The opposition could force transport minister Geoff Hoon to call a public inquiry into the plans, which could bring months of hold ups to work on the last single carriageway stretch of the A11, near Mildenhall.


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Campaigners said the addition of a bridge or underpass, preferably near the Elveden war memorial, would also help boost the area's equestrian tourist trade.

Yesterday the protesters met in the village to demonstrate over the difficulties they claim to be facing.

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Brian Freemantle, east of England welfare officer for the British Horse Society, said: “We are not trying to blackmail them or hold this up.

“The approximate cost of a bridge would be about £200,000 and this is a £127m project. A public inquiry would cost as much as it would for providing for the needs of everyone else.”

Mr Freemantle added that the strength of feeling was such that some individuals - not supported by the horse society - were threatening to cause traffic chaos by riding their horses down the A11 in protest of the Highways Agency proposals.

But a Highways Agency spokesman said a crossing for “non-motorised users” had not been added to the A11 dualling plans because of the “very little usage” of local rights of way.

But he said officers were making arrangements to meet objectors before a public consultation exercise ends on February 19.

Work to address the missing link of the A11 is scheduled to begin at the end of 2010, but could start earlier if a public inquiry is avoided.

Elizabeth Barrett, chairman of the Federation of Suffolk Byways and Bridleways, said that she had already lodged her formal objection to the Thetford to Barton Mills improvement works because of the lack of a crossing.

“I am getting in touch with local riders and they are horrified about what is happening and I will go to a public inquiry if necessary,” she said. “We are classed as vulnerable road users and I will hold up the process if we do not get a crossing. Horse riding is a healthy outdoor recreation and I know a lot of riders in the area that would certainly use a crossing.”

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