Wildlife concerns over A47 proposals

NWT East Winch Common. Photo: Richard Osbourne. NWT East Winch Common. Photo: Richard Osbourne.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
9:50 AM

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

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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.”

Do you have a local government story? Email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

9 comments

  • Conervationists are the ones that are keeping this country, a third world country. Wildlife adapts to their surroundings. What part of 'third world' dont these idiots understand ?

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

  • Why shouldn't the rights of toads or newts be placed way above mankind? It is us that are destroying their environment and not the other way round and well all is said and done there are far too many of us.

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    John L Norton

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

  • Since the route of the A47 is likely to be to the north of East Winch and around by Middleton Towers, East Winch common is hardly likely to be affected and this is a fuss about nothing.However these so called environmentalists should be put in their place. I can remember when East Winch common and another one nearer KL were much more extensively grass and much better drained and would say that the bulk of the trees are around fifty years old or less ( Although there are some older these commons were once used.. The state of the common is one of neglect from a condition of a grazing common to scrub. I would also defy those environmentalists to point out where the major gas pipeline from Bacton went through the area in the 60s-virtually impossible to see now because of re growth.. The conditions on the common are easily replicated any where in the vicinity and relatively quickly. The stance taken by twenty somethings and move ins with no local knowledge is often annoying.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

  • DR I think you miss the point but I won't waste time trying to explain all I would say on the subject is that there is a great deal of difference between knowledge and intelligence. You seem to still suffer the delusion that a road can be 'unsafe' which is, of course, ridiculous. You may disparage the various wildlife charities but they seem to be the only organisations with the will and the wherewithal to stop the few wild places left in the world becoming covered in concrete or exploited by modern agriculture and other industries. With your amazing memory and ability to retain facts I'm sure you will remember Dr. Sidney Long who can be said to have started the movement that is now the Wildlife Trust Organisation from humble beginnings in Norwich.

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    Thoreauwasright

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

  • We have seen this argument against dualling the Acle straight-moving the roadside ditches it is claimed would have a major impact Absurd.All over the marshes and in the Fens drains are dredged and dug all the time. They are quickly recolonised by aquatic life and in some cases dredgng actively improves the environment for rare and scarce water plants and aquatic insects. I have seen an independent report which concludes this. Drains moved back from a dualled Acle straight would soon be indistinguishable from the originals. Since the habitat at East Winch is far from ancient ( unlike places like Foxley Wood) then it is no great loss and is only regarded as being important because it is an area naturalists can access and study and elevate its importance. As for Scarning Fen-not so important that houses couldnt be build right up to it-and I seem to recollect when I was a kid it was grazed by horses and cattle-but that may have been the north side of the A47. Equally important habitats are lost all the time-river meadows to gravel extraction for example-but because charitable organisations are not running them as pet projects we hear no fuss.

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    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

  • It's the same old story where the rights of a few toads or newts are placed way above mankind. I cannot see how adding an extra lane to this main artery in to central Norfolk can have impact on wildlife. The section from Dereham to Swaffham already has all the main infrastructure in place and could easily be dueled.

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    Michael Clintergate

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

  • There is a potential impact of a new road with Scarning Fen , a short way west of where the dualling ends near Dereham Tesco. The Fen is a SAC or special area for conservation and this designation is a material consideration in any road plans. A second carriageway would be to the north of the current roadway. There is space Issues on alignment around the long bend in the current road. The position of East Winch Common means any bypass has to go the other side of the village, which is probably better any way. The proposed route of HS2 confirms that environmental impacts do not stop development. There have been bigger cuts in the environment than most areas. Environment Agency has had huge cuts, notably connected to flood defence, for example.

    Report this comment

    Capri

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

  • “What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?” Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

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    Thoreauwasright

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

  • TWR well yes. Then let us all go back to freight on the rail , little local lorries and the rest of us driving little old black motors and having our groceries delivered by Kingstons our books from Chambers and Dr Puddy making house calls if you want old style Dereham..Many of us will remember driving to Norwich not just when the A47 went through Hockering and Honingham and Tuddenham, which is relatively recently, but also when the road was those narrow scraps barely visible behind trees at places like Necton. And when our villages were not inundated with those who have moved in from out of county. Things change, the A47 has to carry a lot more traffic, it needs to be safe, which it is not at the moment.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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

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