Open Letter, in objection to the Norwich Western Link

Thursday 18th August 2022


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 advise will soon be available 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 ancient oak 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

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

Mark Cocker, Nature writer

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

Chris Dady, CEO, 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

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