Wildlife concerns over A47 proposals

PUBLISHED: 09:50 12 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:50 12 March 2014

NWT East Winch Common. Photo: Richard Osbourne.

NWT East Winch Common. Photo: Richard Osbourne.

© Richard Osbourne

Improvements to the A47 could cause “irreversible damage” to sensitive wildlife areas located alongside the road, according to conservationists.

Officials from Norfolk Wildlife Trust have said that two of their nature reserves – NWT East Winch Common and NWT Scarning Fen – could be affected by proposed road improvements. They said there are also a number of County Wildlife Sites alongside the A47 including at Narborough, Pentney and Wendling, which could be threatened.

As reported, Norfolk MPs, as part of the A47 Alliance, recently told roads minister Robert Goodwill they wanted a long-term commitments to dual the main trunk road. The road was added to a shortlist of six schemes on which officials in Whitehall are drawing up a detailed business case - and Mr Goodwilll branded the A47 as being in the “premier league” of the big road schemes being considered for investment.

Brendan Joyce, NWT chief executive said: “Impacts from new roads are not just restricted to direct loss of habitat under tarmac - they present a wide range of threats to wildlife. There is understandably local authority and business support for improvement to the A47, but we do not believe that this should happen at the expense of wildlife.

“And while it is clear that some of the proposed improvements will not happen for a number of years, we believe that it is important to flag this up at an early stage so that planners and politicians are fully aware of the risks to wildlife.”

NWT East Winch Common, adjacent to the A47 in East Winch, near King’s Lynn, a wet heathland, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because it is home to a variety of rare plants, including marsh gentian. NWT Scarning Fen, near Dereham, is internationally important for its species-rich alkaline fen, of which it is one of the very best examples in the UK.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and carry out environmental assessments on all projects ahead of any work starting. These look at a number of things from cultural heritage to air quality, noise levels and landscape.”

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