Fears road scheme will harm wildlife

By David GreenA RELIEF road scheme will run through the middle of an increasingly-important wildlife site and the route should be changed, according to a bird enthusiast.

By David Green

A RELIEF road scheme will run through the middle of an increasingly-important wildlife site and the route should be changed, according to a bird enthusiast.

John Walshe, an authorised bird ringer for the British Trust for Ornithology, said the area of scrubland off Creeting Road, Stowmarket, was now used by a breeding ground for nightingales and turtle doves.

The scrubland is in the way of the second phase of the Stowmarket inner relief road.


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Pressure from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust was successful in getting an amendment to the original route, which was to have gone through the middle of a wildlife-rich reedbed.

The route now clips only the corner of the reedbed, but proceeds through an area of scrub vegetation which, according to Mr Walshe, is growing in importance for wild birds.

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“I was down there at the weekend and I ringed about 100 birds, including bullfinches, black caps, white throats,” he said.

Mr Walshe added there was also evidence of the presence of harvest mice and the endangered water vole on the edge of the reedbed.

Dorothy Casey, conservation manager for the wildlife trust, said negotiations were taking place with Suffolk County Council over compensatory habitat for areas due to be lost as a result of the construction of the road.

“If the road does go ahead, we will be anxious to achieve maximum conservation benefit in terms of a compensatory scheme,” she added.

“We are seeking the creation of a new area which is as close as possible to the existing location and larger than the habitat being lost.

“If the data shows that the existing habitat has become more important for wildlife, we will want this recognised in the compensatory scheme.”

Ms Casey said birds were mobile and would soon colonise a new habitat if it was well managed.

But Mr Walshe claimed there was considerable uncertainty over whether a compensatory scheme would have the desired effect.

Mike Young, major capital projects manager for Suffolk County Council, said officials were working closely with the wildlife trust and other agencies to locate potential areas for replacement reed bed and scrub.

“But it is not feasible to re-route the road to avoid this area. We work with our environmental experts to mitigate, wherever possible, any effects of the road building programme on wildlife,” he said.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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