Countryfile will feature Norfolk and Western Link Bat Colony

5:03 p.m. December 3, 2021

Concerns about the environmental impact of the Norwich Western Link (NWL) road project are to be featured in the BBC’s Countryfile series.

This Sunday’s episode is set to feature a report on the project, with particular emphasis on a bat colony that environmentalists fear will be disrupted if development continues.

The show will include a visit to the Wensum Valley, north-west of Norwich, where the Tory-controlled Norfolk County Council (NCC) wants to build the £ 198million road. The region is home to a “super-colony” of barbastella bats. Environmentalists have claimed the road will harm creatures and violate wildlife laws.

Dr Charlotte Packman of Wild Wings Ecology is among those who have criticized the project. She said her team was filmed by the BBC while doing their bat fieldwork in August.

Dr Charlotte Packman, from Wild Wings Ecology
– Credit: Wild Wings Ecology

“We have been studying bat populations in the Lenwade, Weston Longville, Ringland area since 2018,” she said.

“We have been tracking their movements, finding out where they roost, what habitats they use.”

“It’s probably the largest population in the whole country, which is pretty amazing really, and it was probably right under our noses all these years.”

The team is analyzing the data and hopes their work will be published in a scientific journal.

Dr Packman said that despite providing NCC with a summary of their findings, the authority had been “quite dismissive”.

“They say if they don’t have all the raw data then they’re not ready to listen to it.”

However, giving the data to NCC would prevent them from publishing it, she said.

Martin Wilby, NCC’s cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said: “I hope people will understand that it is absolutely essential that we take an evidence-based approach to any project. infrastructure and that the basis of our proposals for the NWL will be considered. rigorously throughout the planning process.

Martin Wilby, member of the Norfolk County Council Cabinet for Highways, Infrastructure and Transport.

Martin Wilby, member of the highways, infrastructure and transport cabinet
– Credit: Simon Parkin

“So we rightly asked Dr Packman to provide the data underlying the conclusions she drew, so that our environmentalists can analyze this information and take it into account where appropriate.”

“We have heard what Dr Packman has said and we remain keen to obtain more details as soon as possible, including the location of any bat roosts located during his investigations.

“Until and unless that happens, we will continue to base our proposals for the project on the wealth of evidence we have gathered through our investigations.”

The episode will air on BBC One at 5:20 p.m. on Sunday, December 5.

Harry D. Gonzalez