Stop the Wensum Link (SWL) campaign

Press Release

28th May 2021

 

Case for Norfolk Link Road presents little evidence of producing significant economic gain and also heightens concern over its impact on climate, the local environment and biodiversity 

 

This is what leading opponents within our campaign are saying about Norfolk County Council’s Outline Business case (OBC) released yesterday(1):

 

David Pett - Stop Wensum Link said:

‘This road has no national significance.  It’s a road to nowhere, a road with no point.  It’s all about easing some minor rat running.  Nothing depends upon it being built, no businesses, no jobs, no development, no move to a zero-carbon economy.   Why spend between £200 and £350m on a road which has no strategic purpose.   This outlay of money is at expense of developing a much needed, joined up public transport system with much cheaper solutions to help with traffic movements in and around Norwich’.

 

Environmental consultant, Dr Andrew Boswell said:

“The council have only modelled vehicular emissions for 60-years.  They are playing a smoke and mirrors game with the model assumptions: two years ago the model showed a significant increase in CO2 emissions, now it shows a small decrease. 

However, they have ignored large amounts of near-term emissions as no data has been produced on the carbon released by desecrating the massive carbon sink of ancient and veteran trees, and carbon rich woodland soil, along the road route.  Nor for the construction emissions in building the road.  These emissions are the elephant in the room, and if the road is built, will have a big climate impact in this critical 2020s decade when emissions need to be rapidly reduced.”

 

Woodland owner, Dr Iain Robinson said:

“The council have again repeated their claim to be able to achieve biodiversity net gain on this project, and yet their submissions reveal that they do not include such large adverse impacts such as the loss of ancient trees and woodland in their BNG calculations. Scientists have repeatedly warned that that biodiversity net gain is not possible when it is impacting the home woodlands and foraging zones of highly protected species such as the Barbastelle bat. The mitigation they plan to put in place to counter the impact on the bats is unproven. They are, in short, planning to spend £22m on mitigation that, in the opinion of independent ecology experts, is unlikely to be successful.”

Stop the Wensum Link (SWL) campaign

Press Release

21st May 2021 

SWL call for bat reports to be published

Council condemned for rushing Wensum link contract whilst suppressing TWO damning ecology reports

 

The Stop the Wensum link (SWL) campaign (and others) have written to the head of Norfolk County Council, Tom McCabe (1) calling for two reports on the extent and activity of the bat colonies in Ringland Woods to be published.  The two reports from February 2021 showed that the Norwich Western Link (NWL) would pass through the UK’s only known Super-Colony of an exceedingly rare and highly protected bat species, the barbastelle bat. 

SWL say the council must urgently publish the reports as they have set June 7th as the date for the entire full council to decide the business case to the Department of Transport, and the contract to build the road.  SWL warn that if councillors are not fully briefed and aware of all climate and ecological data, then they cannot take trustworthy and legitimate decisions on June 7th.

Despite having the independent expert evidence in these reports, the Council has continued to make public claims that there is no evidence of a high activity of barbastelle bats. 

 

David Pett, Lawyer for Stop the Wensum link said

“The Council have had reports since February showing the route would pass through UK’s only known super colony of the rare and highly protected barbastelle bats. The reports are damning – the road cannot go ahead on this route. 

Instead of reflecting that mitigating the ecological damage is impossible, and wildlife law will thwart planning consent, the Council have refused to acknowledge the data, and even tried to publicly discredit the lead researcher, a local bat expert. 

It is time for Norfolk County Council to clean up its act.  By continuing to withhold all the available data, they risk misleading councillors and the contractor, and losing public trust and money.”   

 

Andrew Boswell, independent environmental consultant said:

“Norfolk County Council has a track record of entering into extremely high value contracts for hundreds of millions of pounds, and then running into serious financial problems.  Rushing the collapsed incinerator contract cost over £30m, after the Council ignored warnings from Whitehall of costly planning delays.  And, of course, the NDR has overrun, and we still do not know its final cost. 

The council have presented misleading views on the climate and ecological impacts of the road, and councillors are being asked to take a rash decision on the contract.  This is not just disastrous for the climate and wildlife but may also have serious financial repercussions downstream as planning and wildlife law issues mount.”  

Details:

1.     Open Letter, and complaint, attached (also at: http://bit.ly/2021May_BatsOpenLetter_NCC)

2.     Report from Dr Charlotte Packman (Director, Wild Wings Ecology & Associate, University of East Anglia), signed by 11 others at http://bit.ly/2021Feb_BatResearch

 

3.     Report from Dr Mark Hassall, FRES (Emeritus Reader in Animal Ecology, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia) sent to Norfolk County Council in February 2021 at http://bit.ly/2021Feb_Hassall_BatResearch

 

4.     Eastern Daily Press. “Whitehall warned Norfolk over incinerator planning delays”, June 2014 – “Norfolk County Council ignored Whitehall warnings there could be costly planning delays for the King's Lynn incinerator, it has emerged in a government spending watchdog report.” https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/whitehall-warned-norfolk-over-incinerator-planning-delays-671978

 
 
 

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