Norfolk Wildlife Trust's position on the NDR Western Link

An area of woodland directly on the route of the Western Link, credit Iain Robinson 1/1

From a very early stage, NWT has had grave concerns about the proposed Western Link for the NDR, which we have aired publically throughout the process. In meetings with technical staff and directly with councillors, we are taking every opportunity to highlight the impacts and risks to our native wildlife We will continue to do so with stakeholders at all levels and will also raise our concerns with the media.

The views of the Chief Executive are reflected in her public quotes below. NWT will always campaign for the best interests of wildlife and biodiversity.

In January 2019, when the four options were presented, Pamela said in the press:

“Without further evidence that the losses to important wildlife sites, degradation of nearby habitats and habitat separation across the landscape can be avoided or properly mitigated, we currently regard all of the options as unacceptable.

“The western link road will lead to direct loss of habitat, the separation of remaining habitats into smaller fragments and impacts on floodplain hydrology as well as increased light, noise, road run-off and air pollution over a considerable distance each side of the road. Severance of the landscape will result in reduced species mobility, whilst increased pollution will likely result in a reduction in habitat quality and species diversity. Both will reduce nearby sites’ and populations’ ability to cope with other environmental changes and increase the likelihood of localised extinctions.”

This month (February 2020) in a press release ahead of Norfolk County Council’s meeting, Pamela said:

“We appreciate the inclusion of a strategic objective to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain. However, there is a difference between delivering habitat targets and ensuring that all biodiversity impacts are mitigated effectively across the route. It is very likely that the newly created habitat will not support the wildlife displaced from the areas lost to the road. This is shown most starkly by the impact that the road will have on the bat colony.

“It is vital that all specific habitat requirements of all wildlife along the route are assessed, as well as meeting the Defra net gain habitat targets. In particular, the Council will need to examine in detail the habitat connectivity.”

The same press release sought to educate by explaining the significance of habitats and stated that “We estimate that the western link road will include the permanent loss of between three and four hectares of woodland. The mature trees in this woodland provide features such as holes and bark gaps, which form a key roosting habitat for the local bat population. The rarity of the species present means that this woodland is likely to be of national importance. “A new woodland planted to meet the net gain targets adopted would fail to provide replacement bat roost sites and therefore would not mitigate or compensate for the losses. This would be compounded by the disconnection of the remaining areas, leaving them more vulnerable to local extinction.”

While we know some of our members are in favour of the Western Link for the NDR, it will not affect our position or ultimate decision as to whether to formally object to the proposal and when, which are guided by our mission to protect wildlife and biodiversity.

The three news stories and background information are available here.