Wildlife trust objects to A47 dualling amid fears for bat colonies

The A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton . Pic: Highways England.

The A47 between Easton and North Tuddenham. - Credit: Highways England

Dualling a section of the A47 in Norfolk will have a "significant impact" on legally protected species, including bats, a wildlife trust has warned.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has registered its objection to plans by National Highways to dual just over five-and-a-half miles of the road between North Tuddenham and Easton.

A Planning Inspector is taking evidence and submissions over the merits of the scheme, while a series of public hearings, held virtually, have been held.

And Mike Jones, conservation officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust has submitted an objection on behalf of the trust.

Mike Jones, conservation officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Pic: Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Mike Jones, conservation officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Pic: Norfolk Wildlife Trust. - Credit: Norfolk Wildlife Trust

He said: "We are concerned at the scale of the ecological impacts of this proposal and object due to the significant impacts that are likely to occur, particularly to legally protected species known to be present in the vicinity of the route."

Otters, water voles and great crested newts are among protected species identified in the area.

And he said the trust was particularly concerned about the impact on bats.

Barbastelle bat

A barbastelle bat - Credit: C. Packman

He said the cumulative impacts of the scheme - and the proposed £198m Norwich Western Link - on a super colony for barbastelle bats have not been addressed.

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Mr Jones said: "Consent should only be granted if it can be robustly demonstrated that impacts on the favourable conservation status of bat species near the route can be avoided."

National Highways said effects on biodiversity, including habitats and protected species, had been assessed and measures to minimise and mitigate were part of the scheme's design.

Those included mammal underpasses, specially designed drainage, wetland creation and landscaping.

On bats, National Highways said 14 tree roosts would be lost, but there would be "enhanced" replacement tree planting, including copses to act as ‘stepping stones’ between roosting and foraging habitat.

National Highways says bats use mammal underpasses, but bat bridges were ruled out because "it has been shown that these are ineffective".

They said updates to clarify the assessment of how the Western Link scheme and the A47 dualling would impact bats would be given to the inspector.

The Planning Inspectorate will ultimately make a recommendation to transport secretary Grant Shapps , who has the final say on whether work goes ahead.