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Coalition launches campaign to halt destructive road project

CPRE Norfolk
By CPRE Norfolk
20th June 2024

Following the consultation period for a planning application for the construction of the Norwich Western Link Road opening last week, a coalition of regional and national environmental organisations are joining forces to launch a public campaign against the development.

The collective of regional and national environmental organisations behind the campaign include

The organisations oppose the development on the grounds of the unacceptable impact it will have on wildlife and the wider natural landscape.

Following news that the road will have “significant adverse effects” on land equivalent to over 150 football pitches, the coalition warns that the proposed 3.8 mile dual carriageway would pose a grave threat to the irreplaceable nature in the area.

The construction would threaten the UK’s largest population of legally protected barbastelle bats and will damage and pollute two chalk rivers – a fragile and globally rare habitat.

The coalition recognises the need to improve transport links in Norfolk and supports the development of sustainable transport planning in the county that tackles congestion in villages and avoids further damage to wildlife.


On Wednesday 12 June, Norfolk County Council opened a 5-week long public consultation period, during which local individuals and organisations are invited to share their views on the planned development.

The campaign encourages people to join the cause, spread awareness through social media, and actively voice their objections to the Norwich Western Link road.
An online tool has been launched that enables the public to easily share their concerns about the road’s impacts on the environment with Norfolk County Council during the consultation period.

It builds on growing public opposition to the road, including a petition signed by over 18,000 people which was handed in to Norfolk County Council on 8th April.

“The damage it will do is irreparable”

A spokesperson for the coalition, Mike Jones, Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Planning & Advocacy Manager, said: “The harm a development like this would do to this rare and irreplaceable landscape cannot be overstated.

“In addition to the land forever lost to the wide swathe of concrete cutting across the landscape, the road will also scar a significant area around it. The noise of traffic will drown out birds as they attempt to communicate. Light pollution will ruin the hearts of woods nearby, rendering them unsuitable to nocturnal species dependent on the darkness. Species such as owls, bats and badgers will be condemned to collisions with cars as they continue to use what remains of the landscape they are dependent on for everything.

“The damage it will do is irreparable and giving permission to these plans will set a precedent, leading to more development on protected habitats in other parts of the UK in future.

“We urge you to join us in giving nature a voice by taking part in our online action and demanding that Norfolk County Council explore alternative solutions to the road, to ensure that the future prosperity of local communities in Norfolk is advanced in harmony with its wildlife.”

“A disastrous move”

Jack Taylor, the Woodland Trust’s Lead for Woods Under Threat, said allowing the development would be a “disastrous move”: “It’s crucial that we join forces with other environmental organisations and encourage everyone to get behind this campaign. There is so much at stake – not just locally, but nationally.

“This road will drive a stake straight through the heart of Norfolk’s precious natural environment, including old woods and trees, rare chalk streams, wetlands and meadows, to name a few. These habitats are home to one of the UK’s rarest and most threatened species, the barbastelle bat, a creature facing extinction. Yet we have a road scheme threatening one of the country’s largest colonies of them.

“The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, and any further loss of invaluable habitat is completely unacceptable. If we allow Norfolk County Council to take this next disastrous step towards the eradication of yet another species, where will it end?”

Natural England released a report for barbastelle bats in March that concludes that the species is not in Favourable Conservation Status. This means that developments which are likely to damage the habitats which barbastelle bats rely on, particularly where significant populations are surviving, are unlikely to be licensed.

Recent evidence has shown that Norfolk County Council’s own ecological records do not fully capture the wildlife of the area, or the full extent of the impact of the road on nature.

Join the campaign

Join the campaign against the road by taking part in the online action. Visit

A view of the Wensum valley showing a bridge over a river
Norfolk Wildlife Trust