Bypass route goes through wildlife haven
Plans for a bypass to relieve a traffic-clogged town could stall because the proposed route cuts through a nationally protected environment.Brandon residents have battled for 12 years to get a bypass, saying that noise pollution and fumes choke their town.
Plans for a bypass to relieve a traffic-clogged town could stall because the proposed route cuts through a nationally protected environment.
Brandon residents have battled for 12 years to get a bypass, saying that noise pollution and fumes choke their town.
But at a special meeting with Suffolk County Council's chief executive Mike More yesterday , preliminary plans revealed the route through Thetford Forest could effect habitats of protected birds, the nightjar and stone curlew.
Furious Brandon Action Group (BAG) campaigners said Thetford Forest is a crop and birds should not take priority over humans.
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While the Brandon bypass scheme is in competition with 14 other road schemes for a place in the county's next Local Transport Plan (LTP), the government has the final say.
Under its guidelines, the preferred Brandon route could have “very serious adverse” impacts on a potential Special Protection Area, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a County Wildlife Site.
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Mr More stressed that the plans were only preliminary and there was still hope, but a lot of work needs to go into them before they can be finally submitted in 2005.
“Clearly we're keeping the issue high on our agenda. One of the reasons it is important not to lose heart and keep going through the processes and proposals, is we plan to feed it into the next LTP for the five year period from 2006-11. That is the fundamental point at which the bypass can be considered.
“The Department for Transport traditionally has indicated that no more than one major scheme to come to fruition for any LTP period. That said, this year we got double that,” said Mr More.
Other bypass and road schemes in the competition would relieve Mildenhall, Beccles, Bungay, Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft, Ingham and Great Barton, both near Thetford.
Explaining the adverse implications of the report, including the potential effects on the forest, Mr More said: “These are not our criteria and we need to persuade the Government. The environmental part is going to be a tough one.”
BAG secretary Eddie Stewart said: “Humans should come before birds.”
MP for West Suffolk Richard Spring, president of BAG was also at the meeting and said: “Brandon is the biggest settlement in Suffolk without a bypass. Traffic problems really are horrific.
“Even today at lunchtime, there are traffic problems and by 3.30pm there will be gridlock, with all the environmental degeneration and dangers to health traffic involves. During the summer that is aggravated by the caravans trying to get to the North Norfolk coast. A bypass is long overdue.”