Fresh uncertainty over the future of the Norwich Western Link has been sparked, with questions over whether the contractor due to build it could drop out or be ditched.

In the wake of the departure of the contractor which had been due to work on the separate Thickthorn junction revamp, opposition councillors questioned whether a similar situation could arise with the £251m Western Link.

Dereham Times: An artist's impression of the Norwich Western LinkAn artist's impression of the Norwich Western Link (Image: Norfolk County Council)

Norfolk County Council awarded the contract to design and build the Norwich Western Link to Spanish firm Ferrovial Construction in 2021, but the government has not granted approval - or funding - for the 3.9-mile road, which would link the Northern Distributor Road to the A47.

At a recent meeting of the Conservative-controlled county council's cabinet, Green county councillor Jamie Osborn asked what risk was being considered over the Western Link contract.

Dereham Times: Green county councillor Jamie OsbornGreen county councillor Jamie Osborn (Image: Jamie Osborn)

It came after National Highways, the government company responsible for the A47 and A11, revealed it was retendering the contract Galliford Try was awarded for Thickthorn.

Neither side has revealed the reasons, citing commercial confidentiality, but National Highways insists it will not delay the project's start next spring.

Dereham Times: Thickthorn roundaboutThickthorn roundabout (Image: Mike Page)

Mr Osborn said: "The retendering of National Highways’ contract for dualling the A47 is likely to result in increased costs as inflation is still very high.

"The retendering adds additional uncertainty to the A47 project which would connect with the Western Link.

"It could also prefigure similar events occurring on the Western Link. Ferrovial were appointed two years ago, and with no sign of funding being committed and costs spiralling, it would not be a surprise if the firm had second thoughts about the project’s viability."

READ MORE: Call to reveal latest estimated cost of Norwich Western Link

Dereham Times: Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transportGraham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport (Image: Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk)

Graham Plant, County Hall's cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said he remained confident about the Western Link scheme.

That is despite the council pausing work on the project because the government has yet to approve the business case, or bankroll 85pc of the money for it.

Mr Plant said: "Ferrovial was appointed as part of a design and build contract and they remain actively engaged in working towards the approval of the Western Link as soon as possible."

He added an update will be given in November, with details of risk assessments.