Concern over bat colony amid plans for dualled A47
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A colony of bats which has made its home near a dinosaur adventure park has been raised as a concern in plans to upgrade Norfolk's highways.
At a meeting of Norfolk County Council (NCC)’s planning and highways delegation committee on Friday, councillors agreed to change a statement they were preparing to clarify mention of a barbastelle bat maternity colony near ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure, north-west of Norwich.
National Highways - the new name for Highways England - is requesting permission from secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps to build the new dual carriageway close to the existing A47.
NCC will send the amended statement to the Planning Inspectorate, asking NH to consider the “cumulative effects” of the planned Norwich Western Link road - which is planned to run from the dualled A47 up to the Broadland Northway near Taverham.
Though NCC supports the A47’s dualling, the council has said its support is conditional on environmental and other issues being resolved.
At the meeting, the committee voted to clarify that it is Dr Charlotte Packman of the Wild Wings Ecology group, rather than the county council themselves, who “believes that there is a nationally significant breeding barbastelle colony of over 150 bats in this area”.
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At the meeting, cabinet member Graham Plant said he was concerned as to why data had not been released by Dr Packman following her study.
Mr Plant said: “I’m just worried that we have an expert in her field who is not prepared to release her information to allow us to say whether that’s right, wrong or indifferent, but in fact is just said to stop a development happening."
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He claimed there would be a "financial implication" for Dr Packman in deciding when to release the information, including if it was published in a journal - something Dr Packman refuted after the meeting.
She said her work on the research had been entirely voluntary and that it actually costed to have the team's data published in a journal. Their work, she said, was solely motivated by a desire to protect the rare bat colony.
She said to ensure the data is as robust as possible and used appropriately they needed to ensure it was published first.