Bat safety warnings redacted from ecological survey into NDR impact
PUBLISHED: 06:36 22 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 22 March 2020
Warnings that the planned western link for the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) would place an endangered bat species in jeopardy were deleted from an ecological report into the £205m road.
In January, Norfolk County Council published a report into how the road, which is now known as the Broadland Northway, had impacted on the welfare of barbastelle bats - one of Britain’s rarest mammal breeds.
The report was compiled by consultants Mott MacDonald and at one stage included warnings from ecologist Charlotte Packman, who said in it that the western link “has significant potential to negatively impact” a barbastelle colony in the Wensum valley.
However, before the report was submitted by Mott MacDonald and published to the council’s website, these warnings were redacted from the report.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council told The Guardian that references to the Norwich Western Link project had been removed because they were “outside the scope of the work” it commissioned Mott MacDonald to complete.
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They said: “The original ‘one year after’ report for the Broadland Northway was to report on that project. There were a number of references to the Norwich Western Link project that were outside the scope of the work that we commissioned Mott MacDonald to complete.
“However, the relevant survey details that related to the [western link] project were made available to the county council’s [western link] project team and its consultant, WSP.”
A spokesman for Mott MacDonald echoed the council’s statement that the original report was outside of the scope of the commission.
They said: “A revised report relating to the NDR was prepared that removed the information so that it met the original client brief.
“However, recognising the usefulness of the out-of-scope information to the clients future scheme, we provided this to the council.”
Meanwhile, the council also confirmed that should the £153m western link through the Wensum Valley go ahead, it would not be considering bat gantries similar to those on the NDR.
The county council spokesman added: “Currently a range of mitigation proposals are being considered for the Norwich Western Link, including underpasses and green bridges designed for bats.”
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