A11 inquiry details to be revealed

FINAL details for a public inquiry into the A11 dualling scheme will be revealed at a meeting next week.

FINAL details for a public inquiry into the A11 dualling scheme will be revealed at a meeting next week.

A pre-inquiry meeting has been time-tabled for Tuesday in Thetford where a government inspector will set the scene for the full inquiry, expected to take place in November. He will determine details such as when and where it will be held and outline the key issues.

The Highways Agency said it was still working to resolve objections to its proposed plans for the long-awaited upgrade to the road between Barton Mills and Thetford.

But the announcement of the pre-inquiry meeting has laid to rest some uncertainty as to whether the inquiry would actually take place.

The �150million improvement scheme is scheduled to start in late 2010 but numerous objections have been raised, among them concerns about the volume of traffic using the Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills.

But it has emerged a Mildenhall resident intends to use the public inquiry to present a new scheme to take traffic away from the busy roundabout.

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Peter Sturgeon's rival scheme, which has been produced for the inquiry by the Highways Agency's own consultancy Jacobs, shows an alternative A11 running to the south east of the agency's proposed route.

Rather than going through the Barton Mills roundabout, his suggestion is for a new roundabout junction away from Barton Mills.

“It is so important for the Barton Mills residents,” he said. “It is just a huge improvement in terms of the quality of life and environmental impact for people in the area. The roundabout is never going to get any better until you take the traffic off it.

“It would be good for people in Brandon as well because of its impact on the A1065 (because the new A11 would take Norfolk-bound traffic away from Brandon).”

He said his suggestion would probably cost more than the Highways Agency's own proposals, but he said as it currently stood the Fiveways roundabout would still need to be dealt with in the near future, which would mean his suggestion would cost less in the long term.

Tim Huggan, Forest Heath District Council's Liberal Democrat councillor for Barton Mills, had major reservations about the impact the A11 dualling scheme would have for those living in Mildenhall and Barton Mills.

He said: “It is a sensible solution to look at an alternative route which could solve the problems on the Barton Mills roundabout forever.”

Erica Howe, spokesman for the RSPB, said she was still awaiting the results of an environmental assessment to clarify the mitigation measures necessary to protect the ground nesting stone curlew. If satisfied with the results they would withdraw any objection.

The pre-inquiry meeting has been arranged by Persona Associates on behalf of the Highways Agency and is due to take place on Tuesday at 10am in the Carnegie Room, Cage Lane, Thetford.

Moving Thetford Forward, a partnership of organisations looking at the improvement and expansion of Thetford, is urging people to support the improvement plans.

Chairman William Nunn said the inquiry was “a pivotal point for the future of Thetford and Norfolk”.

He said: “The A11 is a vital link for people that live, work and visit the area. The improvements planned for the A11 are long overdue and will bring an end to the misery caused by delays and accidents which blight the lives of those travelling in and out of Norfolk.”