Fears raised over Western Link surveying work
- Credit: Submitted
Surveying work being carried out by contractors on the site of the planned Norwich Western Link road will go on for several weeks - sparking concerns from residents.
Vans, fencing and workers in hi-vis jackets, which have been spotted down in the Wensum Valley, have been there since “early October”, according to Mark Kemp, Norwich Western Link project manager at Norfolk County Council (NCC).
The purpose of the works, which are being carried out by Harrison Geotechnical Engineering, is primarily to test the properties of the soil, and are scheduled to continue until just before Christmas, with further survey requirements in 2022.
The Western Link, if built, will run 3.9 miles from the A1067, linking to the A47 at Wood Lane near Honingham, with a 720-metre-long viaduct over the River Wensum.
Local woodland owner and academic Iain Robinson said several residents were concerned about geotechnical drilling taking place on the edge of a woodland habitat for Barbastelle bats.
He called it “a distressing scene, a glimpse of the devastation to come, and unjustified given that this project has yet to be fully funded or have planning permission approved".
He said: “Given the escalating and urgent crises we face with biodiversity loss and the climate emergency, and the huge carbon cuts that need to be made locally and nationally in transport, it would be prudent if NCC were to pause, review, and preferably drop this environmentally harmful and financially costly project."
Martin Wilby, NCC’s cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said he expected the road to reduce carbon emissions and that it was needed to tackle existing traffic congestion, its knock-on impacts, and accommodate anticipated growth.
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“The project will support walking, cycling and public transport use as well as reduce the need for vehicles to enter the city or rat-run through communities and residential areas.
“Building this road in an environmentally responsible way is fundamental to the project."
He said the council was making a “significant investment” in “environmental mitigation and enhancement measures, including green bridges and wildlife underpasses and creating and improving habitats for wildlife across a wide area.”
He added: “We have all the necessary permissions to carry out these surveys and they are an expected part of the process to deliver a large infrastructure project of this nature.”