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Birds could scupper Brandon bypass hopes

PUBLISHED: 08:27 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 21:24 07 July 2010

Multi-million pound plans for a bypass around gridlocked Brandon could be scuppered by a group of rare nesting birds, it has been warned.

Breckland Council, Natural England and the RSPB want a 1,500m-wide buffer zone to be put in place around nesting sites for the protected stone curlew.

Multi-million pound plans for a bypass around gridlocked Brandon could be scuppered by a group of rare nesting birds, it has been warned.

Breckland Council, Natural England and the RSPB want a 1,500m-wide buffer zone to be put in place around nesting sites for the protected stone curlew.

But it has now emerged that the proposed buffer zones could put plans for a bypass at Brandon at risk.

Residents have been campaigning for the road upgrade for decades and a business consortium expressed its willingness last year to contribute towards the £15-20m cost of the scheme.

But Robert Childerhouse, Breckland District Council's member for Weeting, said the stone curlew buffer zones could mean that the bypass would never be built with public or private funds.

“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 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,” he said.

The Brecks 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.

West Suffolk MP Richard Spring said he was aware of the stone curlew issue and said he would be following developments closely.

Tim Cowan, the RSPB's stone curlew project co-ordinator, 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.

“It is worth pointing out what a special place the Brecks is, and when you've got an area like that you have to protect it.”

A spokesman for Natural England said it was down to local authorities to decide whether they accepted the 1,500m stone curlew buffer zones within their planning policies.


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