Norfolk Wildlife Trust will strongly object to the planning application for the Western Link. Based on the evidence available, we consider that the proposal would result in the loss of significant and irreplaceable ecological features of national importance for which mitigation and compensation are not feasible. We cannot envisage how it would be possible to proceed with the road and comply with wildlife laws and planning policies, nor provide a net gain for biodiversity as stated by Norfolk County Council.
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.