Campaigners from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have signed a joint statement calling for greener priorities in Transport East’s 30-year plan.

31st January 2022

The campaigners want to see a transport plan that actually delivers on the green vision set out in the Transport East consultation[1].  They seek a strategy that:

1.      prioritises funding for cycling, walking and public transport;
2.      puts a freeze on new carbon-emitting, traffic-inducing road-building;
3.      addresses current transport needs rather than ‘unlocking’ thousands of new homes through road-building;
4.      takes into account the problems and benefits of different transport approaches. These should include health problems and costs to the NHS caused by air pollution and traffic noise, and benefits such as lower healthcare costs for active populations who cycle and walk regularly.

Suffolk quote:

“It is disappointing that Transport East is perpetuating, in projects selected, the Government line that growth, specifically housing growth along major roads, is good.  They have repeatedly said they want to reach zero carbon by 2030.  Their proposed strategy, as part of Transport East, contains lots of fancy words about sustainable goals but look closely and the proposed actions and spending are mainly about road building to encourage more driving, more use of airports and more house building.”    Cllr, Robert Lindsay, deputy leader of the Green, LibDem, Independent Group on Suffolk County Council Council.

Essex quote:

“Transport East’s consultation starts with all the right words, but when you delve into the projects that are proposed, it’s clear that its more of the same:  road-based growth.  What the region desperately requires is a plan that moves away from road-building and focuses on an integrated rural and urban public transport service and safe cycling routes for school children and commuters.  That, perhaps funded by workplace charging, as introduced with great success in Nottingham, will be the only way that we can cut carbon emissions and improve air quality for the people of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.”   Rosie Pearson, Campaigner, Essex.

Norfolk quote:

“In Norfolk, road-building has dominated transport planning for decades.  Now that is taking us ever further from the net zero target and destroying ecosystems and blighting communities with noise and air pollution.  While it is good to see some very positive goals in Transport East's 30-year strategy, the reality is that still far too much emphasis is being placed on building roads to support car-based travel.  It is important to realise that electric cars are not the solution to our problems. They further encourage road-building, do nothing to prevent congestion and encourage urban sprawl instead of walkable communities."  Andrew Boswell, former Norfolk County Councillor and campaigner

Signed by

  •  Cllr James Abbott, leader of the Green & Independent Group on Braintree District Council

  •  Dr Andrew Boswell, Independent Scientist & Consultant, Norfolk

  • Cllr Jan Davis, Group Leader of the Greens on Broadland District Council  Cllr.Jan.Davis@southnorfolkandbroadland.gov.uk

  • Dr Pallavi Devulapalli, West Norfolk Green Party d_pallavi@hotmail.com

  • Colne Stour Countryside Association

  • Lisa Cross, campaigner and Green Party member.

  • Alistair Daw, Billericay Action Group, Essex

  • Edward Gildea, Uttlesford Green Party

  • Cllr, Robert Lindsay, deputy leader of the Green, LibDem, Independent Group on Suffolk County Council 

  • Andrea Luxford-Vaughan, Mayor of Wivenhoe and Colchester Borough Councillor

  • Rebekah McGrane, Campaigner, Essex

  • Rosie Pearson, Planning & Environmental campaigner, Essex

  • Cllr Tim Regester, Campaigner, Suffolk

  • Trisha Roberts, Campaigner

  • Dr Iain Robinson on behalf of Wensum Woodlanders, Norfolk

  • Michael Staines, Campaigner & Independent Candidate, Essex

  • Cllr Paul Thorogood, Green Party, Essex

  • Cllr Lucy Galvin Leader Green Party Group Norwich City Council l.galvin@cllr.Norwich.gov.uk

  • Cllr Ben Price Leader Green Party Group Norfolk County Council Ben.price.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Rosie Pearson
Chair & Co-Founder
Community Planning Alliance
stopurbansprawlnow@gmail.com
https://www.communityplanningalliance.org/

 

Reality dawns at last at Norfolk CC as NWL is added to risk register

September 6th 2021 

Stop the Wensum link (SWL) are surprised that Norfolk CC have only just today added the Norwich Western Link to their risk register.  (Cabinet meeting, Sept 6th, (1)).  

One of the risks identified in the Council papers is that the DfT could refuse to fund the project, and demand the return of government money that had already been provided to the project.

 

David Pett, Lawyer for Stop the Wensum link said

“Reality check dawns at last.  Norfolk County Council are waking up to the fact that the Norwich Western Link faces serious hurdles across many environmental factors, including carbon assessment, the River Wensum SAC, and the super-colony of barbastelle bats that is afforded protected under wildlife and European Protected species law. 

Campaigners have already raised a five-figure pot to fight this scheme through the Courts, and we are serious. The scheme is just not viable and it faces long court processes.  How long will it be before the DfT realises the risks, turns down the funding application, and asks for its money back?”

 

More information (1):

NCC Cabinet, 6th Sept page PDF 212

 
 

Project Managers resign at joined-at-the-hip Norfolk road schemes

August 15th 2021 

 

Stop the Wensum link (SWL) campaign note with interest the simultaneous resignations of Chris Fernandez, Norfolk County Council’s (NCC) project manager for the Norwich Western Link (NWL) (see 1 below) and James Powis, Project Manager, Highways England’s A47 North Tuddenham to Easton scheme (A47NTE) (see 2 below) in the same week as the A47NTE DCO planning examination starts.  SWL are surprised that senior managers should leave both projects just when each is entering a very significant phase of their funding and planning processes (see 3 and 4 below).

 

The NWL and A47NTE are connected, as if both were to be built, they would share a junction at the southern end of the NWL, the A47/NWL/Wood Lane/Berrys Lane grade-separated interchange.  The schemes also interoperate with respect to traffic modelling and behaviour, and design work has been shared between the teams Mr Fernadez and Mr Powis headed.  

 

Andrew Boswell, Climate Emergency Planning and Policy (5)

“Why would senior managers leave both these projects at the same time when they are just entering their strongest phase of scrutiny for funding and planning?  Following the UK’s 6th Carbon Budget, and the IPCC Report on climate science, both schemes face serious challenge on their Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) on cumulative carbon emissions.  Do these managers realise that the schemes are not viable in the Climate Emergency, and may face serious legal challenge downstream?”

 

David Pett, Lawyer for Stop the Wensum link said

“Have these managers lost confidence in their projects? The NWL would pass through the River Wensum SAC and a recently discovered super-colony of barbastelle bats.  SWL have repeatedly advised Norfolk County Council that they face serious legal challenge with the NWL schemes on several issues, including carbon assessment, the River Wensum SAC, and the super-colony of barbastelle bats that is afforded protection under wildlife and European Protected species law.  Have these managers seen that their joined-at-the-hip schemes are just not viable and face long court processes? ”

 

References:

 

1.     Update on behalf of David Allfrey, NCC Infrastructure Delivery Manager

 

Dear all,

 

I wanted to make you aware that Chris Fernandez, Norfolk County Council’s project manager for the Norwich Western Link for the last three years, has accepted another job and will be leaving the project this month. Chris has overseen the project through some key milestones, including the submission of the Strategic Outline Business Case and the Outline Business Case and the appointment of Ferrovial Construction as the design and build contractor. He has been fundamental in getting the project to where it is today and I’d like to put my thanks to him on record and wish him the very best for his new position.

 

In the immediate short term, Chris will be handing over his project management responsibilities to Mark Kemp, who is a long-standing senior member of the council’s Infrastructure Delivery Team. Most recently, Mark project managed the Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing through its pre-construction stages, with construction getting underway at the start of this year, and since Ferrovial Construction were appointed in June he has been managing their role as part of the Norwich Western Link project team. So Mark brings an enormous amount of experience and also continuity with him and it’s great news that the project is being transferred to such a capable pair of hands.  The process to firm up a longer term arrangement has commenced.

 

At the last meeting of the Local Liaison Group in early June, I realise we proposed the next meeting could take place in August. However, in light of the project management changes and annual leave within the team during the summer holidays, we would like to suggest that this meeting is held instead in September which will enable us to give you all a more thorough update. We will circulate a proposed date for this meeting later this month.

 

Best wishes,

 

David

 

 

2.     Statement from James Powis

Dear All

 

This Friday, 13 August, I shall be leaving Highways England and the A47 North Tuddenham to Easton scheme.

 

I just wanted to write and thank you all for your tremendous input while we’ve been working together over the last few years. Whether during or outside our formal consultations, your contributions have been helpful, challenging and, most importantly, influential in our designs as we’ve tried to accommodate as many of the views as possible.

 

As you know, we’re presently at the Development Consent Order stage on the project and I’m grateful to those of you who made representations. The Planning Inspectorate is now scheduling our timetable with the next event to be held this Thursday, 12 August. You will find further details about the scheme on our website https://www.highwaysengland.co.uk/A47NT-E. Please do make sure that you click on Sign up for updates! which keeps you updated on the Planning Inspectorate activities around the scheme. 

Also, under our latest update on 23 June, you will see that you can also access the Planning Inspectorate’s own A47 North Tuddenham to Easton website athttps://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/a47-north-tuddenham-to-easton/?ipcsection=overview .

Thank you again. I’ve really enjoyed working with you and please do continue to correspond with the team at A47NorthTuddenhamtoEastonRIS@highwaysengland.co.uk.

Kind regards

 

James Powis – Project Manager

Major Projects Regional Investment Programme

Highways England | Woodlands | Manton Lane | Bedford | MK41 7LW

3.     The A47NTE Planning Examination started on August 12th 2021 https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/a47-north-tuddenham-to-easton/?ipcsection=overview

 

4.     The NWL project has an Outline Business Case (OBC) submitted and currently being assessed by the DfT https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/major-projects-and-improvement-plans/norwich/norwich-western-link/timeline

 

5.     Climate Emergency Policy and Planning (CEPP).  Dr Andrew Boswell is an independent scientist and environmental consultant, working at the intersection of science, policy, and law, particularly relating to ecology and climate change.  CEPP promotes the necessary rapid response to the Climate Emergency in mainstream institutions, such as local authorities and government, through the lenses of science, policy, and law. 


SWL Statement – IPCC report
8th August 2021

 

David Pett says:

‘The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report is a code red for humanity: climate change is indisputably human-driven and happening fast.  It is hugely concerning that temperature targets set under the Paris agreement may be broken within the next 20 years, causing irreversible environmental damage and more extreme weather events.  

“We are shocked by the lack of comment from Norfolk County Council, a council which has still yet to declare a climate emergency. We question how much longer the council can keep its head buried in sand.   Surely the time has now arrived to give this issue some urgent attention.  So we call upon the council to declare a climate emergency and to ensure all ongoing infrastructure projects including the NWL are reassessed to take into account their inevitable impact on climate change.  This is important when transport accounts for around a third of total emissions in Britain and toxic fumes from cars, vans and lorries cause thousands of premature deaths every year.’


SWL Statement on Government's Transport Decarbonisation plan

14th July 2021

 

Please find a new statement from the Transport Action Network (TAN) here

Stop the Wensum link support the TAN statement.

In addition, with respect to transport in Norfolk, Dr Andrew Boswell, spokesperson for Carbon and Climate Emergency with Stop the Wensum link campaign says:

 

"Transport is the sector with the biggest carbon footprint and decarbonising it is essential to tackling climate change. Norfolk County Council's road building mania which includes SEVEN schemes in just the Eastern part of the county just does not fit.  Realistic cumulative carbon assessment of schemes like the Wensum link, and the A47 upgrades show they blow our ever decreasing carbon budget.  They should be scrapped and funding put into the public transport, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure which Norfolk has missed out on for many years."

± SCIENCE ± POLICY ± LAW ±

Climate Emergency Planning and Policy

28th June 2021

High Court challenge to largest ever roads programme, including the proposed a47 dualling around Norwich

 

The High Court will hear Transport Action Network’s (TAN) challenge to the £27.4 billion second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), which includes the three A47 schemes around Norwich (A47 Blofield to North Burlingham, A47 North Tuddenham to Easton, A47/A11 Thickthorn Junction), on 29 and 30 June [1]. Campaigners are claiming that Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, broke the law when approving RIS2 by failing to consider its effects on the environment.

 

 

Published in March 2020, RIS2 sets out plans for England’s Strategic Road Network (SRN), including 50 major road schemes, of which the three A47 schemes around Norwich all coming to planning examinations in the next few months. Although the Network, made up of motorways and major A roads, is responsible for over 10% of the UK’s domestic CO2 emissions, ministers quietly abandoned setting a target to reduce this [2]. Government lawyers are now seeking to persuade the Court that climate commitments were not “obviously material” to road-building. This is despite Shapps acknowledging two weeks after rubber stamping RIS2 that “climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge of our time” and that this meant we need to “use our cars less in future” [3]. 

Chris Todd, Director of Transport Action Network said:

“Trying to argue climate change isn’t “obviously material” to approving the largest ever roads programme is like saying public health is not relevant to reform of smoking rules. In an audacious attempt to protect his addiction to asphalt, Shapps is now seeking a legal precedent that decision-makers can ignore climate targets. 

 

This puts ministers on a collision course with the Climate Change Committee, which last week called on the Government to adopt a ‘Net Zero Test’ for all policy decisions. The DfT’s dodgy defence now risks undermining UK leadership of the COP26 climate summit and our international standing.”

 

The Government’s backup defence is that in any event ministers did consider climate commitments. Besides heavily redacted legal advice that baldly asserted RIS2 was “consistent” with net zero, the Department for Transport (DfT) is relying on an assessment made after the decision. This concluded as RIS2’s impact was so small as to be “de minimis” that ministers had been justified in ignoring the policy gap to meet new climate targets. TAN obtained the help of two of the UK’s leading transport experts to review the figures [4]. Shockingly, they concluded RIS2 climate impacts were likely one hundred times greater, as DfT:

· Only considered the impact of five newly announced schemes, not the whole roads programme of over fifty major road schemes; 

· Calculated carbon for a period when not all those five schemes were fully open, and

· Ignored non-tailpipe emissions such as from land clearance and road construction.

 

Rebecca Lush, roads campaigner at TAN, added:

“How can ministers expect to be taken seriously if they ignore the carbon emissions from all but 100 out of the 4,000 miles of road the Chancellor announced at Budget 2020. It’s as if they are trying to pass off an old banger as a brand new electric vehicle. Such extreme fiddling of the figures would put even the dodgiest second-hand car dealer to shame. It’s time to shift this outdated roads plan off the forecourt and onto the scrapheap.”

 

Days before the hearing, the Welsh Government announced a freeze on road-building. Separately, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommended that “investment in roads should be contingent on analysis justifying how they contribute to the UK’s pathway to Net Zero”, directly challenging the DfT’s existing policy. To secure the 63% cut in emissions needed between 2019 and 2035, the CCC is calling on the Government to “prioritise funding away from car use” and to provide “measures to make it less attractive to drive” [5]. 

 

Todd concluded:

“If we are serious about tackling the climate emergency, improving quality of life after the pandemic and delivering a less congested future, we need to reduce traffic. This case, the biggest legal challenge to transport policy in British history, seeks to do just that. A ruling to quash the largest ever roads programme would be historic, not just for the UK, but for communities worldwide seeking to build back better in the run up to COP26.”

 

Dr Andrew Boswell, independent scientist and consultant, and speaking on behalf of the Stop the Wensum link campaign says:

 

" In combination with the Norwich Western link (NWL) road, the A47 schemes would massively increase capacity and traffic growth around Norwich contrary to national policies for climate change.   These schemes must be assessed cumulatively for carbon emissions, biodiversity, ecology, and air quality at planning to meet the laws for environmental assessment.  When the carbon emissions are added up for clearing the land and constructing these schemes, and increased vehicle use, then these schemes taken, alone but especially together, will not pass the "net-zero test".   They should be put on hold now.    We are grateful to Transport Action Network for bringing this legal challenge on climate grounds against the Government's £27bn road building programme including the Norfolk A47 schemes.  We wholeheartedly support this legal challenge, and appreciate all the hard work by TAN and the legal team."

 

Anyone who wishes to add their support to the legal challenge are asked to kindly consider donating towards the legal fees, but making a donation via TAN's CrowdJustice page - https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stop-largest-ever-roads-programme/

 

Press contacts

Chris Todd - Director - chris@transportactionnetwork.org.uk

Rebecca Lush - Roads campaigner - becca@transportactionnetwork.org.uk 

Dr Andrew Boswell - Climate Emergency Planning and Policy andrewboswell@fastmail.co.uk;  

Notes for editors

[1] R (Transport Action Network Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport and Another [CO/2003/2020] will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice. TAN is represented by Rowan Smith at Leigh Day solicitors, David Wolfe QC (Matrix Chambers) and Pete Lockley (11 KBW). Due to current restrictions, the hearing cannot be attended in person but online access can be arranged by contacting listoffice@administrativecourtoffice.justice.gov.uk on Monday. The following are also available online: Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2): 2020 to 2025 and TAN’s case pleadings and evidence

 

[2] The UK’s 2019 net domestic CO2 emissions were 351.5 MtCO2, while the SRN figure was 35.6 MtCO2 for 2015 but emissions did not decrease before the pandemic. RIS1, published in 2014, required Highways England to develop a metric of carbon emissions “arising from use of the Network”. This was due to be in place by 2020 but quietly dropped when RIS2 was published.

 

[3] Ministerial Foreword to Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge

 

[4] The expert evidence of Professor Phil Goodwin, Emeritus Professor at University College London and University of the West of England, and  Professor Jillian Anable, Professor at the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, is available online.

 

[5] Plenary 22/06/2021 - Welsh Parliament and CCC 2021 Progress Report to Parliament. NB The widely cited 78% target relates to cutting emissions between 1990 (rather than 2019) and 2035. See pp16, 164, 209 and 210 of CCC Report.  

 

[6] The A47 schemes around Norwich, all coming oto planning examination in the next few months:

https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/a47-blofield-to-north-burlingham/ [planning examination started June 22nd]

https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/a47-north-tuddenham-to-easton/

https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/a47a11-thickthorn-junction/

 

TAN helps local communities fighting damaging road schemes and savage bus cuts. Although only established in 2019, it brings together people with over 50 years’ experience of environmental campaigning. More information at transportactionnetwork.org.uk.

Stop the Wensum Link (SWL) campaign

 Press Release

25th June 2021 

 

SWL Statement - NWL Contractor

 

SWL respond to the news that Ferrovial Construction has been appointed by Norfolk County Council for the possible construction of the Norwich Western Link road as follows.  We note that around the UK and the world, this company is involved in projects which are taking our planet and people to the brink of disaster – this includes expansion of the aviation industry at Heathrow, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton, and the discredited climate wrecking and polluting Silvertown Tunnel project in London.  The climate and ecological destruction associated with Norwich Western Link is no exception to this.  

 

Andrew Boswell, independent climate and ecological emergency consultant, working for the SWL campaign said:

“Norfolk County Council has handed over the rare landscape and pristine nature of the Wensum Valley to a company whose business mission is constructing the infrastructure for aviation and high carbon transport.  It is sadly destroying the world around us.  The Council, and now Ferrovial, plan desecration of an exceptional landscape where Munnings painted, and a habitat that hosts a super-colony of very rare bats.  With seven road projects just in Norwich and East Norfolk planned, Norfolk County Council should be pausing all projects after the Government’s climate advisors said the UK must step up to the climate emergency and stop building roads.”

The SWL campaign also say that no amount of offsetting, or so called environmental compensation, can make up for the damage to Norfolk and the wider world, and this will be a key issue at the planning inquiry.

 

David Pett, Lawyer for Stop the Wensum link said

“Ferrovial have many planning bridges to cross before they can lay the first tarmac.  The Wensum viaduct and this scheme may be a planning hurdle too far.  We will be watching closely to ensure that wildlife law will not be broken by disturbance of the barbastelle bat colony, the River Wensum Special area of Conservation is not compromised, and that climate laws and carbon budgets are not ignored.  We are also very concerned that Ferrovial will be heavily involved in the planning application and environmental work associated with this scheme.  The burning question is will they place the environment first when it may conflict with commercial interests? ”

 

 

Stop the Wensum Link (SWL) campaign

Press Release

23rd June 2021

 

 

NWL Scrutiny Shambles – more questions remain than before

Council officers and cabinet members kick the can down the road

 

The Stop the Wensum link (SWL) campaign say the two hour scrutiny of the NWL business case and contract today was totally unsatisfactory.  It leaves more questions unanswered than before, and most issues have been kicked down the road to a possible planning inquiry.  

David Pett, Lawyer for Stop the Wensum link said

“This hugely complex scheme should have had a two day scrutiny, not two hours.  Good questions were asked by the councillors, but the key planning issues of whether the River Wensum SAC can be built across, whether wildlife law will be broken by disturbance of the barbastelle bat colony, whether the scheme will break climate laws and carbon budgets were all kicked down the road.  It was clear that these issues have yet to even be considered properly, yet the Council is just about to sign up to a £200m contract.  Norfolk people deserve better transparency and openness on how their money is spent”

Andrew Boswell, independent environmental consultant, working for the SWL campaign said:

“Time and time again, council officers and cabinet members, didn’t properly answer the questions.  Following the scrutiny, more questions remain than before, and many claims of the Council have been shown to have no discernible evidence base.  These include why changing the start date on the traffic modelling can loose 30% of the traffic in the area, how bat bridges will work against the scientific evidence that they don’t for barbastelle bats, how building this road reduces carbon emissions against the well-established phenomenon of induced traffic.  The Council have not made a serious case that, when these questions are looked at in detail at the planning inquiry, they will have rigorous and satisfactory answers for them.  Meanwhile, Norfolk taxpayers continue to fund this shambles.” 


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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Press Coverage

https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/western-link-protests-on-monday-june-7th-8031720
https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/fears-for-ancient-trees-on-western-link-route-8012054
https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/norwich-western-link-the-story-so-far-8008686
https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/cost-of-ndr-western-link-up-by-45m-8008792
https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/norfolk-car-county-claim-sparks-criticism-7996632
https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/greens-pledge-to-fight-ndr-western-link-7957854
https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/springwatch-chris-packham-objects-to-norwich-wensum-link-7941318