Western Link's design refined following bat surveys
The Norwich Western Link's design is being refined, to minimise the impact on woodland where a roost of protected barbastelle bats has been identified.
A report to the County Council's Cabinet says it is being amended, following evidence from expert surveys organised by the Council - which is part of the usual design process for major road projects. The Council intends to provide more detail on project timescales and costs in June.
Councillor Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said: "There is strong support for the western link, as it will reduce journey times and emergency service response times, cut rat running through communities and boost our economy.
"We follow a very thorough process with major infrastructure projects and detailed ecological surveys, conducted by accredited experts, are part of this.
"In the light of the evidence gathered through our surveys, we are working with our contractors, Ferrovial and WSP, to refine the route.
"We have always said we would deliver the project in an environmentally responsible way and this is further evidence of that commitment.
"It's important that we get this right and provide the best possible road for Norfolk. We intend to provide more detail in June."
The report says: "The Norwich Western Link project aims to achieve biodiversity net gain on all applicable habitats. Extensive ecological surveys were undertaken in 2019 and 2020 and this information formed part of the ecological baseline data used to develop the scheme design.
"In the summer of 2021, a suite of further bat surveys was carried out to support the understanding of bat activity. All surveys have been carried out by accredited experts and have included bat trapping and radio-tracking fully agreed with and licenced by Natural England.
"Following analysis of the data obtained from the 2021 surveys, it was determined that there is a roost location used by a maternity colony of barbastelle bats (that has a significant level of environmental protection) near to part of the proposed road alignment.
'Therefore, as part of the ongoing scheme design development, work is currently being undertaken to assess, refine and develop the relevant length of the route alignment of the scheme and to assess and address the need for mitigation to minimise the impact of the scheme on the relevant area of woodland."
A map indicating the route refinement is included in the cabinet reports and the council intends to provide further detail on the route and project costs at the cabinet meeting on June 7.
For further details about the Norwich western link, see www.norfolk.gov.uk/nwl
Cabinet will consider the report when it meets at 10am on Monday, 7 March. Watch the meeting, live or afterwards and read the report.