If the Western Link for the NDR were to go ahead on its proposed route, it would drive through what is likely to be the largest known ‘super-colony’ of barbastelle bats in the UK, according to new independent surveys, risking its complete loss
Norfolk Wildlife Trust wrote to the Council in September expressing its concerns at the wildlife impacts of the Western Link proposal, and requesting that the Council revisits alternative options to meet local transport issues.
In October, a presentation was made at the East of England Bat Conference by independent bat experts, Wild Wings Ecology, presenting the results of their surveys on barbastelles and the Western Link route. The full results of the surveys are still being written up, but the findings clearly show that there are significantly greater numbers of barbastelle bats on the route and in surrounding woodlands than have been found by the Council’s own surveys.
The results have identified the presence of a breeding colony directly on the road route and that this is part of a wider ‘super-colony’ occupying surrounding woodlands in the local area. Indications are that the barbastelle population here is likely to be the largest in the UK, with surveys identifying at least 270 individuals.
Dr Charlotte Packman, the ecologist who identified the size and scale of the bat population said: “Our research has led to the discovery of an extraordinary barbastelle ‘super-colony’, part of which would be directly cut through by the proposed Norwich Western Link and the remaining part substantially impacted by the road scheme. This is without doubt a nationally important area (and quite possibly the most important area) in the country for this very rare species. The destruction of barbastelle maternity colony woodlands is not permissible under wildlife laws and would be unprecedented. We believe that the predicted substantial and multifarious negative impacts of the proposed road on this protected species cannot be effectively mitigated or compensated for”.