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Highways Agency rejects All dualling allegations

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:54 07 July 2010

The Highways Agency yesterday defended itself against allegations that information used to create the A11 dualling scheme was unreliable and out of date.

The Highways Agency yesterday defended itself against allegations that information used to create the A11 dualling scheme was unreliable and out of date.

Mary Hamilton

The Highways Agency yesterday defended itself against allegations that information used to create the A11 dualling scheme was unreliable and out of date.

The Highways Agency yesterday defended itself against allegations that information used to create the A11 dualling scheme was unreliable and out of date.

Proposals to widen the A11 between Thetford and the Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills were criticised by objectors from the nearby Elveden Estate, which claims the scheme needs a junction linking the A11 with the B1112.

Planning expert David Brimmer, giving evidence for the Elveden Estate, said the objectors were so concerned about the lack of a junction that they would rather see the scheme halted completely than for it to go ahead without full consideration of the issues.

Mr Brimmer said: “The position of the Estate is that the grade separated junction is of such importance that it is prepared to go ahead with this inquiry even if that means there is a risk to the scheme.”

The Elveden Estate said a crucial survey of journey length in the area was completed in 1999, and that current guidance said data older than six years should not be used.

It argued that this and other factors rendered the Highways Agency traffic modelling data unreliable and not fit for the purpose of creating accurate assessments of the current and future traffic movements on the A11 and B1112, particularly when looking at short local journeys.

But Rupert Warren, counsel for the Highways Agency, accused the Estate of “armchair criticism” and asked what evidence the objectors could provide to back up claims that the junction was needed.

“Where is the evidence that queues are longer than our model has predicted them to be?” he said. “You have not produced any positive evidence showing what our data should be.”

Mr Brimmer responded that in order to produce evidence the Estate would have to complete its own traffic modelling surveys, a time-consuming process that would not normally be required of objectors to the scheme.

The Estate also claimed that introducing computerised signals which respond to queue lengths at Fiveways roundabout could mean longer queues for local traffic, a possibility that was confirmed by Andrew Merritt, the transport planner for the scheme.

The inquiry resumed on Monday after more than a month's adjournment. It is set to conclude tomorrow when all sides will make their closing statements.

Planning inspector Neil Taylor will then produce a report to go before the secretary of state who will make the final decision.

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