Birds could scupper bypass scheme

A MULTIMILLION pound scheme for a bypass around an often gridlocked town could be scuppered by a group of rare nesting birds.

A MULTIMILLION pound scheme for a bypass around an often gridlocked town could be scuppered by a group of rare nesting birds.

Breckland Council, Natural England and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) want a 1,500m-wide buffer zone to be put in place around nesting sites for the stone curlew.

In order to be enforced, the buffer zone would need to be agreed by the relevant local authority.

The Brecks, which includes towns like Mildenhall, Thetford and Brandon, boasts 216 of the nation's 350 pairs of stone curlews and conservationists claim any development in the area can have repercussions for the birds, one of Britain's rarest species.


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But it has now emerged that if the buffer zone is enforced, plans for a bypass around Brandon could be at risk.

Those living in Brandon have long campaigned for a bypass to ease congestion in the town centre.

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Robert Childerhouse, Breckland District Council's member for Weeting, said: The birds need to be protected but we have to cater for the needs of people as well. The birds are only here for five months of the year.

“Under the current proposals the Brandon bypass is never going to happen because the birds come first. Brandon is gridlocked most days and it desperately needs a bypass.

The RSPB's stone curlew project co-ordinator Tim Cowan said: “Whatever happens in these areas is pretty significant for the stone curlews and we just want to ensure that any development plans take them into account.”

A spokeswoman for Natural England said: “It is our responsibility to give advice. At this stage it is a recommendation. This is our best advice - that if you have a 1.5km buffer around nesting birds than that will give the birds the best chance.”

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