The Planning Inspectorate published its scoping opinion on Highways England’s proposed linking of the A47 dual carriageway between Norwich and Dereham, at the beginning of November. Under the Planning Act 2008, all nationally significant infrastructure projects must be approved by the inspectorate.
Planning Act 2008
06 Apr 2016
Highways England had hoped it would only need to evaluate concentrations of NOx (including NO2), PM10 and CO2 pollution as part of the scheme’s future air quality assessment. But the Planning Inspectorate said it must now assess “all relevant pollutants identified under the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive”.
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Pollution from transport can form very fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which can penetrate body organs and contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Where national and European air quality standards are not being achieved in a given area, a local authority must declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA), which form the worst areas in the country for air quality.
The inspectorate told Highways England it would also not be allowed to scope out the cumulative effects its project will have on the AQMAs in Swaffham and Central Norwich with other proposed highway schemes, such as the A47 Blofield to North Burlingham and Norwich Western Link projects.
The inspectorate told Highways England that its forthcoming environmental statement will also need to include details of fish surveys where significant effects are likely to occur because the dual carriageway expansion could obstruct movements of migratory fish as a result of in-channel works, the inspectorate said.
The European eel is one such species that could be impacted by the expansion. It is a species of principal importance under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
To view the scoping opinion in full click here