Fresh details about the £251m Western Link have been revealed, as the public is given a chance to have a say before plans for the controversial road are lodged.

Norfolk County Council has revealed more information about the mitigation measures it says will protect wildlife and stop pollution in the River Wensum Special Area of Conservation when the 3.9 mile road is up and running.

But critics said those measures - including a transparent barrier on the outer edges of the 12 metre high viaduct to prevent spray from traffic, plus underpasses for bats - are "window dressing".


The new details have emerged as the council launched an eight week consultation over its latest vision for the road, which would connect the A1270 Norwich Northern Distributor Road to the A47 near Honingham.

The council says it wants to hear from the public before the planning application is finalised and submitted - likely to be in April next year.

The council, which is still waiting to find out if the government will provide £213.4m towards the cost of the road, has published new details of how it will address environmental concerns.

That includes a transparent barrier on the viaduct crossing the River Wensum, which the council says will minimise the impact of noise and tyre spray from the 24,800 vehicles using the road when it opens in 2026.

The road's alignment has changed after bat surveys confirmed protected barbastelle bat roosts on the route. The council says green bridges and underpasses will guide bats and other wildlife across the road safely - although critics are not convinced.

At the northern end of the route, two options for a wildlife crossing are under consideration - another green bridge or a ‘landscaped bat crossing’.

The council, which has produced a fly-through video to accompany the consultation, says existing trees could be retained either side of the road and in a central reservation, where the carriageways would separate, to guide bats to fly over the road above the tree canopy.

The consultation also reveals how modelling shows the scheme will reduce traffic on roads such as Ringland Road, Taverham Lane, Dereham Road, Wood Lane and Weston Hall Road, but will increase traffic on some other roads.

The council says it has been speaking to parish councils about addressing that, including measures such as reduced speed limits and road closures.

Martin Wilby, the Conservative-controlled council's cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, insisted it was the right time to build the road, despite the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis.

He said: "The Western Link is a vital piece of infrastructure for Norfolk. There would be 25,000 vehicles using it as soon as it is up and running, which would take traffic off smaller roads.

"It will reduce accidents, support the economy and encourage growth."

Mr Wilby said he was confident the environmental mitigation measures would address concerns.

But Green county councillor Jamie Osborn said: "When you look at what they're proposing in terms of environmental mitigation, it's fairy tale land.

"They're talking about green bridges and underpasses, but there's no evidence they will work - it's just window dressing."

Mr Osborn said he had no confidence the public's views would be listened to in the consultation.

Labour deputy leader Emma Corlett said: "This feels more like a sales brochure than a consultation exercise.

"The visuals show lots of mature trees, which does not show the reality which the public and wildlife would have to put up with - waiting years for trees to reach maturity.

"It's still a massive waste of money. We've just had a drought declared amid the climate emergency and this road is a 1970s solution to a modern day problem, when we should be investing in public transport."

A spokesman for The Stop The Wensum Link campaign group, said said the public consultation was "premature" and urged people to respond the consultation saying the road was not wanted.

How to have your say

People can view the proposals and give feedback via an online questionnaire on the Norfolk County Council website at

Hard copies of the consultation brochure and questionnaire can also be requested.

The public consultation will close on Sunday, October 9.

Four consultation events will be held at:

Barnham Broom Village Hall, from noon to 8pm on Friday, September 2.

The Costessey Centre, from 1pm to 8pm on Friday, September 9.

Weston Longville Hall for All from noon until 8pm on Thursday, September 15.

Felthorpe Village Hall from noon until 8pm on Thursday, September 22.