Our Open Letter, in objection to the Norwich Western Link

Wednesday 17 August, 2022

Today, we sent an open letter to Councillor Andrew Proctor, in objection to the Norwich Western Link road (NWL). Read the full letter below. You can add your voice by sharing this letter, and signing the petition. The public consultation on the NWL is now open, and we will soon be advising on how best to respond.

Dear Councillor Proctor, 

We write to express our grave concerns about the impact of the proposed Norwich Western Link Road on Norfolk’s wildlife and landscape. This week, Norfolk County Council has opened a public consultation on the road and we are writing to convey the strength of our objections to the plans. 

For over two years, environmental organisations, including Norfolk Wildlife Trust, have been highlighting the unavoidable negative impact the road will have on a well-connected network of vital wildlife habitats and the species that call them home, many of which are protected by law.

The area is home to ancient woodlands, grasslands, chalk streams and floodplains and supports veteran trees and species including bats, badgers, farmland birds such as yellowhammer and linnet and a wide variety of invertebrates. The proposed development will fragment this wildlife-rich area, damage the River Wensum Site of Special of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and destroy parts of three County Wildlife Sites. 

Of most concern is the evidence from a growing body of independent research, which presents incontrovertible evidence that the proposed Norwich Western Link route goes through the heart of the UK’s largest known barbastelle bat colony. Barbastelle bats are in serious decline globally and the proposed road will separate them from the fields and marshes where they feed and inevitably result in the deaths of many bats. This risks the local extinction of a globally threatened species. 

We consider this to be totally unacceptable and reject any claims the Council makes that they can build the road and safeguard the bat population. Barbastelle bats have the highest level of legal protection, a colony of this size should be designated and protected from all forms of development. 

For local government to prioritise this development and seek extensive funding from national government is directly at odds with commitments to address our biodiversity and climate crises. It also sets a dangerous precedent that will spell disaster for UK nature. 

We, the undersigned robustly oppose the proposed road to protect wildlife in Norfolk, and across the UK. We will be responding in these terms to the consultation and urging others to do the same.  

Signed by 

Eliot Lyne, CEO, Norfolk Wildlife Trust 

Alice Liddle, Chair of Trustees, Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Patrick Barkham, President, Norfolk Wildlife Trust 

Chris Packham 

Stephen Fry  

George Monbiot, Writer and environmental activist

Dr Charlie Gardner, Patron of Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management  (CIEEM) 

Mark Cocker, Author and naturalist

Professor Tim O’Riordan, President, CPRE The Countryside Charity (Norfolk) 

Chris Dady, Chairman, CPRE The Countryside Charity (Norfolk) 

Crispin Truman OBE, Chief Executive, CPRE The Countryside Charity 

Steve Rowland, RSPB Area Manager (Norfolk & Lincolnshire) 

Toby Bancroft, Regional Director, The Woodland Trust (Central England) 

Dr Jonah Tosney, Technical Director, Norfolk Rivers Trust 

Dr A R Leech, Chair, Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society  

Sarah Eglington, Group Coordinator, Norwich Friends of the Earth 

Iain Robinson, Stop the Wensum Link 

David Pett, Stop the Wensum Link 

Craig Macadam, Conservation Director, Buglife 

Sharon Hearle, Conservation Manager (Eastern Region), East of England Butterfly Conservation

Ash Murray, Chair, Norfolk Barbastelle Study Group

Will Fitch, Chair, Norfolk and Norwich Bat Group

Dr Carol Williams, Director of Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust

Chris Todd, Director, Transport Action Network 

Dr Andrew Boswell, Independent Scientist and Consultant, Climate Emergency Planning and Policy 

Rupert Read, Climate activist and Associate Professor, UEA 

Hugh Warwick, Author, ecologist and Visiting Fellow at Oxford Brookes University 

James Murray-White, Environmental film-maker 

Amy Jane Beer, Biologist and writer 
Nick Acheson, NWT Ambassador 

D J Taylor, Norfolk-based Critic and Novelist 

Rachel Hore, Norfolk-based Novelist 
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