In February 2018, the scheme was confirmed as a nationally significant project. This means Norfolk County Council will require a Development Consent Order (DCO) under the Planning Act in order to construct, maintain and operate the bridge and its approaches.
The Planning Inspectorate – the government authority responsible for overseeing the planning process for projects of national importance – will be examining the project’s DCO application. The process also includes opportunities for people to provide more details of their views on the project.
The first stage of the examination, held this week, was an open floor hearing meeting at which representatives from Norfolk County Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership spoke to give their full backing to the project. Representations were also made by individuals including local residents, business owners and representatives from community groups and organisations.
The examination period will take up to six months to complete. The examining authority from the Planning Inspectorate will then have three months to submit its report and recommendation for the project to the secretary of state for transport. The secretary of state will then have a further three months to decide whether to grant the DCO.
If granted, the county council will be able to start construction on schedule in late 2020, with the aim of opening the bridge to traffic by early 2023.