A Western Link for the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) now called Broadland Northway, is being considered, which will link the end of the current NDR on the A1067 with the A47 near to Easton.
The landscape between the A47 and A1067 is a well-connected network of habitats that are important for wildlife, including ancient woodlands, grasslands and floodplains. These are not only along the River Wensum but also along the corridor of the River Tud and towards Easton.
The landscape contains many significant areas of importance for wildlife. The River Wensum is a site of international importance for wildlife. Several of the areas are designated as County Wildlife Sites, which are the best semi-natural habitats in Norfolk after nature reserves and SSSIs. Further areas are also in the process of being designated as County Wildlife Sites. The connection between the habitats is of particular importance in this area, for wildlife including bats, such as the barbastelle bat, one of our rarest bat species. The majority of the road design will not be available until after a contractor has been chosen.
We are very concerned about the potential damage by the Western Link to these important habitats and their connectivity and have been raising our significant concerns throughout the process at all levels. We will continue to do so with councillors, technical staff and the press.
Whilst there is very little information available at this stage apart from the line of the route, we are looking in detail at the direct impacts of habitat loss as well as pollution and habitat severance, as evidence from other road schemes indicates there are likely to be long term declines in a wide range of species on either side.
At present, the Council have included a target to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain as part of the proposal. This refers to a specific government policy in the upcoming Environment Bill which aims to deliver a mandatory net gain in the area of habitats that would otherwise be lost to development. Unfortunately this is different from achieving a real net gain for biodiversity as the new habitats created to meet the government policy are unable to support many key species which are dependent on old habitats such as mature woodland, such as the barbastelle. We have directly raised these concerns with Councillors and the Western Link project team and expect the Council to be able to demonstrate that, in line with national planning policy, it is deliverable with a net gain in habitats overall and without any loss to irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland, as well as effective measures to prevent the isolation and decline of vulnerable populations severed by the road.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust's position on the NDR Western Link