The charity is calling on Highways England to deliver a ‘net gain’ for wildlife, in line with government policy, and to confirm there is sufficient funding for a route that will also benefit the environment and the local community.
Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake used to be one connected landscape, but were severed when the A417 was created. The road cuts through the middle of these sites, fragmenting this wildlife habitat. The proposed new scheme will significantly widen the road and present a much bigger barrier for wildlife trying to pass between these sites, so steps must be taken to reconnect them via a land bridge.
Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake have been awarded the status of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of their wildlife. This designation protects the individual sites but does not ensure that the land between Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake is protected for wildlife. It is vital that these sites do not suffer further fragmentation.
Gareth Parry, Director of Conservation at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, says:
'The existing road clearly needs to be improved and we support a landscape-led scheme. However, the preferred route must demonstrate how it is going to protect and improve wildlife, reconnecting the nationally important wildlife habitat which the original road cut through.
'We want to see a solution that improves the environment and doesn’t just mitigate the damage done by the scheme. This is a nationally significant landscape which is highly dependent on visitors who value the countryside of the Cotswolds.’