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Four year wait for snails to settle before A47 Acle straight work can begin

PUBLISHED: 10:52 22 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:28 23 October 2016

The approach to Great Yarmouth on the A47.
March 2016.

Picture: James Bass

The approach to Great Yarmouth on the A47. March 2016. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

Tiny rare snails which have colonised the dykes on a treacherous part of the A47 are likely to have four years to settle into a new home before a safety upgrade can begin.

Ecologists must make sure that the Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snails – which are only found in Norfolk and Surrey – can survive and breed before their old habitat on the Acle Straight is moved.

About 800 of the invertebrates were relocated in the spring, but MPs were told it would take about four years to know if their move had been a success.

Under European rules, the dykes cannot be moved until the survival of the Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snails is secured. They need to be monitored for a number of years to fully understand their survival and breeding patterns.

The four-year wait was revealed in a recently published letter between Highways England and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis earlier this year. In the letter, Mr Lewis told Highways England that it was ludicrous that the snails would lead to a four-year delay in moving the dykes, which he said caused tragic loss of life as cars leaving the road went straight into the ditches.

But Highways England said it had to abide by the law. A Highways England spokesman said: “We are committed to upgrading the A47 in an environmentally responsible way.

“A number of protected species have their natural habitat around the Acle Straight and would need to be relocated successfully before any options for improvement can be considered.

“As part of the feasibility study, we have been working with partners including Natural England about the endangered Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snails and carried out a pilot scheme of moving the species in the spring this year.

“It is still early stages as the snails will be monitored in their new location for a number of years to see whether this has been successful.”

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said people would be “filled with exasperation” when they heard it was likely to take four years.

“I have every desire to try to maintain our environment and make certain it is not damaged.

“But it is almost as if what happens to snails and other beasties has a greater priority than the safety of the thousands of people who use the Acle Straight.

“We have had tragedies where people have come off the road and people have been drowned in the dykes.”

But he said that they should be “grateful for small mercies” that 
the work to move the snails had started.

Great Yarmouth county councillor Mick Castle, part of the A47 Alliance, said it was “almost unbelievable” that it could take so long.

“I am not against looking after the environment, but we have been waiting for so many years, and it seems like every time there is a glimmer of hope, there is something, this snail business seems to be the latest.”

49 comments

  • Was talking with my local gybc councillor awesome or so ago and the subject of dueling the acle straight came into the conversation ! You won't see it in your lifetime or mine he said ! I'm in my seventies he is prob fifty !!!

    Report this comment

    Muddy

    Monday, October 24, 2016

  • It's sad that some people can't see past the end of their own noses: the snails have been moved, and seeing as it's their habitat that's being irreversibly destroyed for human 'progress,' it's only right that they're given time to settle in and establish. Once they're gone, they're gone. Nobody is forced to use the A47, to drive either stupidly slowly or stupidly quickly all for the sake of gaining 2 minutes extra. There is the train afterall - and as we now know from the A11 upgrade, you can dual a road from here to the end of the Earth and some berk will still crash. I'm not saying it doesn't 'need' to be done, of course it does: the reality is that if all agencies involved are in sync and get their collective act together whilst the settlement happens, then work can actually start pretty sharpish after that. Either way, what's happening now is a good thing - for both humans and the snails - but as I said at the start, some people can't see beyond the end of their own noses.

    Report this comment

    Steveo

    Sunday, October 23, 2016

  • What I can't understand is why the snails need to ' settle in ' elsewhere. If the A47 colony were to die couldn't snails from Surrey be relocated to Norfolk ? If for some reason the powers that be insist on this four year delay and it's found that the snails are suffering from homesickness will they be plonked back in the A47 ditches and the road never be built ?

    Report this comment

    Graham Last

    Sunday, October 23, 2016

  • e184 - The speed limit for HGV's was increased from 40 to 50 mph in April 2015. Probably a bit fast for the straight though.

    Report this comment

    Graham Last

    Sunday, October 23, 2016

  • I'm with Only Me an el84, snails or no snails, it's a perfectly good road why does it need dualling? If (some) drivers weren't so hell bent on overtaking every single vehicle in front of them and probably speeding as well there wouldn't be so many accidents, simple as! If someone was only doing 40mph the whole length of it how many minutes extra would it really take you .....?

    Report this comment

    Linda Sinclair

    Sunday, October 23, 2016

  • How long before the train get stopped with snails on the line..

    Report this comment

    molly

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Ive heard theres going to be a cycle lane put in , down the middle .Wont put that pasd them

    Report this comment

    molly

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • So they can't just move the snails slightly to the left or right? Which is technically still Norfolk and in the same environment or dig another ditch (clearly there arent enough already on the large expanse of land either side of the road) which is also still in Norfolk.......and the Council can't put in a lower speed limit for now or double 'do not overtake' lines in case they impale the snails or poison them with white line paint?

    Report this comment

    Dawn Price

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • The biggest mystery is why folks are in such a hurry to get to Gt Yarmouth. A total puzzle that one. Maybe 20mph limit going in and 70mph going out? You know what I'm sayin'

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • So many haters, 40mph on the acle straight is safe driving in my mind, and its very rare for the road to be clear and if it was i'm sure drivers would be going faster, i'm sure there were speed reductions in place recently because of the poor road surface.

    Report this comment

    gerry mitson

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Great memories as a child going on the Great Yarmouth snails at Joyland. Save the snails.

    Report this comment

    rob

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Cant work out why people think we need a 40 or 50mph speed limit, you never get above this anyway. SMH raises a good point, the people who keep pottering along there at 45mph make others want to overtake.As ever though its not speed its poor driving standards that cause most accidents.

    Report this comment

    Jimhow

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Yet another reason to exit the European political community - when the time comes to improve the road, I expect that the Green party will object, citing the need for a cycle lane.

    Report this comment

    midnorfolkman

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • some might say that it's down to driver behaviour (and 90%+ of accidents are), but there is a contributing factor of those who think its fine to toddle along at 40mph when the conditions are dry and clear. This puts other drivers in the mindset of looking for the overtake, which is often not the right thing to do. However, every month that improvements are delayed, whether they're prominent average speed cameras, central barriers or dualling, there's the chance another person will die. But every month "they" seem to find another excuse why they can't do anything yet. How many people have to die before people are put before a snail that also has other habitats? Move them to those places and do something about the road.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • The Acle straight should have been dualed years ago, should be dual carriageway, Yarmouth to Peterborough, Cromer to Norwich, Lynn to Hunstanton. Its unbelievable how backward the Norfolk road network is.

    Report this comment

    trev57

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Well I told my wife we shall never ever see that Acle straight duel-carriage wayed in our lifetimes ,and iam only 48. They just keep coming up with the most craziest of excuses , it seems as though Great Yarmouth is like a cancerous limb .....and they just want to cut us off !!!!!

    Report this comment

    yarco

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • ONLY ME? What a rediculous comment!!

    Report this comment

    MIKEJ

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • I have driven up & down the straight many many times in cars, HGV's & PSV's & the problem is mainly the driving standards of some of those who overtake. Limit the road to the speed that HGV's should be doing, 40mph, place average speed cameras there & eliminate the problem. I am not a fan of speed cameras, but average speed cameras on roads such as the straight, actually do change driving habits & stop the breaking that happens just before a single camera & more importantly, the acceleration after it.

    Report this comment

    el84

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Taken from www.norfolkbiodiversity.org Found within the Broads, North Norfolk, Old Hunstanton to Sheringham and Breckland Natural Areas Action Plan Objectives and Targets National To maintain populations at least 15 sites  Norfolk Maintain population at the 4 Broads sites and at the single North Norfolk Coast site  Establish if it still persists within Breckland Stanford Training Area SSSI 

    Report this comment

    JEN

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • The road is progressing at a snail's pace.

    Report this comment

    Lover of Norfolk

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • The little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snail lives in Cley marshes. While I agree is bad driving causing accidents. GET ON WITH IT.

    Report this comment

    sharky

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Well said OM : As usual, totally ignorant comments from politicians and readers. A few people end up in a ditch, mostly due to there own stupidity and that makes it ok to risk exterminating an entire species? I do despair of how utterly selfish humans have become and that they can't even see the environmental and population apocalypses bearing down on them & their children. We do not own the world ,we have to share it with other species.

    Report this comment

    Jiblian

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • If ever a stretch of road needed average speed cameras this is it.

    Report this comment

    gasman

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • It does seem crazy to rational people that we care more for toads and snails than we do for protecting human lives. But if we keep recruiting more environmental officers then they will find more issues to address or they won't have a job!

    Report this comment

    GolfingCanary

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • I'm not sure it's the snails that are driving, Utter Utter.

    Report this comment

    Dan

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • How on earth did the snails survive when the Acle Straight was originally built? Get on with it!

    Report this comment

    Utter utter

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • I'm with only me too. I want my children and future generations to grow up being able to enjoy the natural world but at The rate at which we are destroying natural habitats there won't be anything left for them to see . People are so selfish I just despair.

    Report this comment

    GIPSOM_FANTASTIC

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • That are only talking about an upgrade not dualling it. To dual it would mean building a new crossing over Breydon, a spur road to Caister and improving the nightmare of a road layout at Gapton. No government is going to spend that sort of money. What can be done immediately to improve road safety is to impose a 50pmh speed limit and put a double line down the entire length of the Acle Straight. That would protect the innocent motorists from the lunatics who want to get from one end of the Straight to the other as fast as they can and in the most irresponsible manner.

    Report this comment

    Hereandthere

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • The snails need protecting. This country has too little wildlife left and we are now in a world that is experiencing the sixth mass species extinction event induced by the greed and stupidity of 7.5 BILLION (and still rapidly growing) humans. How can we encourage other countries to stop exterminating their wildlife if we can't protect our own? It may seem daft to place a snail's life before a human's but its not as simple as that. Almost all these accidents are caused by reckless speeding, overtaking, using mobile phones on the go etc. There needs to be more speed cameras and stiffer penalties to deter the many speeding idiots on the road that endanger the rest of us.

    Report this comment

    Horowitz!

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • So how many more people have to die because of these snails. Just stupidity.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk Lad

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • I'm with Only Me here. Wipe out a species for the great god of the motor car. They know the real answer to that road is average speed cameras set at 50 mph but won't do it because they know that a better accident record would put dualling on the back burner. Personally I don't find it that big a deal taking 10 or so minutes to do the seven and a half miles.

    Report this comment

    Green Ink from Tunbridge Wells

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Meanwhile plans for a new Shell Station are well advanced.

    Report this comment

    C C

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • This is the sort of bad info dished out by the Brexit clan which won them the vote. Natural England applied to the EU to have this particular species of snail added to the European protected species list, it's not something that come from the EU, its something that was requested by the UK to be added to EU rules!

    Report this comment

    Old Boater

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • @ only me the article clearly states that the snails are found in other parts of Norfolk and Surrey and what about the innocent driver forced off the road through no fault of their own.

    Report this comment

    belly

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Just put no overtaking signs and a 40 mph limit on it. It's not like its a 40 mile stretch of road. You can then leave the snails in peace too. 90% of the accidents that happen on that stretch are due to impatient or drunk stupidity. At 40mph you'll only arrive in Yarmouth a minute or so later and to be honest that's a benefit.

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • More incorrect information as the snail is also found in Suffolk and Sussex as well as many other places worldwide.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • As usual, totally ignorant comments from politicians and readers. A few people end up in a ditch, mostly due to there own stupidity and that makes it ok to risk exterminating an entire species? I do dsepair of how utterly selfish humans have become and that they can't even see the environmental and population apocalypses bearing down on them & their children.

    Report this comment

    Only Me

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • The world has gone mad! April 1st come early?

    Report this comment

    Mr. B

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • yet another daft e u rule then, snails come before public safety, small wounder then that the british people voted out.

    Report this comment

    ted

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • If they are anything like the snails in my garden they will have no trouble breeding.

    Report this comment

    Jamie Knights

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Snails lives more important than human beings. Just about sums up what's wrong in this country . Big question is, EC rules apply, if so would we do any different if we were now out of Europe?

    Report this comment

    canaryken

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Good news for species protection.More research is now needed in these 4 years to evaluate the impact of fossil fuel pollution and road building on bees and butterflies too.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Is it April 1st ?

    Report this comment

    tony-w

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Are they serious!!!!! Exterminate. Some one drowning in their car after skidding into dyke is less value than a snail. NDR cannot be considered to cross Wensum Valley because of ecology. The world is potty!!!

    Report this comment

    MIKEJ

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • That so accidents happen on a straight section of road, without even hills, says a lot about the quality of the drivers using it. If it was just them that ended up in the ditches, rather than the innocent people that they end up driving at when they forget that they are not on a race track, I'd say leave well alone. However, how hard would it be to simply put a metal rebar grid (such as used in reinforced concrete) over the ditches until the work is complete? Cars would then not be able to roll into the water (provided that the locals managed to resist stealing the metal, of course).

    Report this comment

    Walsham

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Ridiculous - get on with the job!

    Report this comment

    beverley

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Unbelievable. As someone that has lost family in vehicle accidents, I hope the people who make these ludicrous decisions are forced to answer to the families of anyone that is injured or worse as a result of the delay. In fact, if more could have been done to prevent an accident, then surely someone is responsible for it.

    Report this comment

    Robert De-Mott

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • If that happened in France they most likely would eat them and be done with, roll on brexit.

    Report this comment

    moppet

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • THANK GOD for brexit!

    Report this comment

    christoph

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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