Decision made by Secretary of State for Transport on A47 Dualling at Wansford

A47 Wansford to Sutton Dualling – We won the battle but lost the war.

On the 17th February the Secretary of State for Transport published his ruling on the proposed A47 Wansford to Sutton Dualling and unfortunately he has chosen to support National Highways on almost every point.

Between January and July 2022, the Planning Inspectorate carried out a very detailed review of the project and their finding was that, in the form proposed by National Highways, the scheme should be refused because it showed no overall benefits. The reason for this was that the delays and congestion on the Wansford Western Roundabout negated all the time savings from the rest of the project.

The Examiner also agreed with Wansford and Sutton Parish Councils that the original basis on which National Highways selected their preferred route was incorrect and that the modelling of traffic flows around the A1/A47 junction was based on bogus assumptions.

In the event, the Secretary of State has decided that the Western Roundabout is not part of the scheme and therefore the development shows positive benefits. This is totally illogical as the delays at the Western Roundabout will occur whatever the Secretary of State says.

As a final kick in the teeth for the local community, the Secretary of State has ruled to exclude the two parish councils from further consultation on the detailed design, despite a strong recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate to the contrary. This goes directly against Government policy and a pledge made in the Conservative Party manifesto in 2019.

The only formal recourse to the Secretary of State’s decision would be a judicial review but this would only look at the process by which the decision was made, not the content of the actual decision.

Wansford Parish Council is seeking a face to face meeting with Shailesh Vara to discuss the behaviour of the Secretary of State. Otherwise there is very little that we can do about it. If residents want to comment on the decision, please do so to Shailesh Vara or to Huw Merriman MP, the Minister of State for Transport.

The local community can now look forward to the destruction of the County Wildlife site along the river Nene, lengthy disruption to local travel, inadequate provision for walkers, cyclists and horse riders and the waste of £11 million of public money. There will also be the risk of long term instability of the road and the complete inability to carry out future widening. All these would have been avoided if National Highways had listened to the local community.

Richard Clarke

Wansford Parish Councillor