MAJOR economic benefits, including some 10,000 jobs and over £800m in private investment, would flow from targeted improvements of the A47 in Norfolk, a new report reveals.
The report, commissioned by Norfolk County Council from international engineering consultants Mott MacDonald, is fuelling a new drive for improvements to the A47.
It looked into the economic benefits of investing around £200m on key stretches and junctions on the A47, and of a third river crossing for Great Yarmouth.
Norfolk’s MPs and the County Council have joined forces to press for the importance and potential of the road to be properly recognised by the European Union and the UK Government.
There have also been campaigns in Fenland over the years for improvements to the stretch of the road which runs through the Fens.
The case is being taken up in Europe by East of England MEPs Vicky Ford and Geoffrey Van Orden.
On Tuesday (May 8) the report and its findings, with a covering letter backed by Norfolk MPs and the County Council, will be raised at a European Parliament committee that is considering the Trans European Network (TEN-T)guidelines.
Although the A47 is on the TEN-T ‘comprehensive’ network, European funding is currently only available to routes that feature on the ‘core’ network, such as the A14.
Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation, said: “It’s time for a change of approach. Improving the Trans European Network is supposed to help spread economic prosperity, and finding ways of funding improvements on roads such as the A47 is one of the best ways of doing that.
“Parts of the A14 around Cambridge are now under such pressure that the Government is urgently looking for solutions, and an EU contribution will of course be very welcome. But we should also be looking at targeted improvements of the A47 to provide an attractive alternative route, at the same time bringing an economic boost that Norfolk certainly needs.
“Our long-term ambition is to have a high-quality A47, dual carriageway all the way from Great Yarmouth to Peterborough and the A1, with bypasses for communities such as Middleton and East Winch. In the meantime, this report shows that investment in key improvements will be repaid many times over in jobs and economic output – quite apart from the benefits of easier travel.”
The report is being circulated to members of the A47 Alliance, who represent local authorities, businesses and MPs along the route from Great Yarmouth to Peterborough and has continued campaigning for improvements for many years.