RSPB objection to A11 dualling scheme

ONE of Britain's leading conservation charities has confirmed it would be prepared to delay a major road scheme in Suffolk if concerns over the effect on a ground nesting bird species are not met.

Graham Dines

ONE of Britain's leading conservation charities has confirmed it would be prepared to delay a major road scheme in Suffolk if concerns over the effect on a ground nesting bird species are not met.

The long awaited dualling of the A11 at Elvedon on the Suffolk-Norfolk border was given the go-ahead earlier this year, but the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says the dual-carriageway and its construction work would be a major threat to stone curlews.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the organisation had lodged an objection to the scheme and if its concerns are not met by the Highways Agency, it is prepared to force a public inquiry.


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The proposed road is the last section of the A11 from London to Norwich to be improved. The by-pass will replace 15 kilometres of single carriageway between Barton Mills, Fiveways, and Thetford and will by-pass the notorious accident blackspot at the Elvedon crossroads.

David Barker, vice-chairman of the Suffolk Local Access Forum who has worked with the Highways Agency to ensure rights of way are maintained by an underpass to the proposed road, said: “The nearest stone curlew nest is 400 metres from the road. It is a complete nonsense for the RSPB to hold up this much needed improvement.

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“Stone curlews are more in danger from walkers, dogs and badgers than they would be from construction work.”

A spokeswoman for the RSPB said: “Breckland is home to two thirds of the UK's stone curlews and the RSPB is working hard to ensure that the A11 road improvements are designed to mitigate disturbance to these sensitive birds.

“The proposed works on the A11 is a real opportunity to deliver the improvements to this road that has been a long-held ambition for the region, while, at the same time ensuring that the special wildlife of Breckland is not harmed.

“The RSPB is working closely with the Highways Agency and its consultants to ensure that this does not come at the expense of the nationally important, ground nesting stone curlews population.''

A Highways Agency spokesperson said it was working to receive all the objections it had received. “If they cannot be, it will be necessary to hold a public inquiry this autumn.

“A start of works date in late 2010, as announced in November 2008, can still be achieved subject to satisfactory completion of the relevant statutory procedures - including a Public Inquiry. We are committed to improving this busy section of the A11.”

BLOB: A stretch of the road was yesterday closed following a crash involving four vehicles.

No one was hurt in the accident which happened shortly after 6pm on the northbound carriageway of the A11 at Mildenhall.

A section of road between the A1101, Mildenhall Road and B1112 was closed, forcing drivers to take diversions via the A1065.

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