Chris Woodford

3rd Edition

November 1996


@nticopyright - please copy, use, and distribute freely


A 6-page summary of this report is also available.






East versus west 2

Environmental impacts of the western route 4

A new opportunity: the Mawhinney review 5



Snelsmore Common SSSI 7

Kennet and Lambourn riverine SSSIs 9

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) 13


Bats 17

Badgers 17

Dormice 18

Nightjars 18

Vertigo moulinsiana 19

Nesting birds and other wildlife 20









English Nature's position on "Roads and Nature Conservation" is: "To oppose vigorously road proposals that adversely and irreversibly affect Sites of Special Scientific Interest". [16] The A34 Newbury Bypass would pass through the boundaries of three designated SSSIs and pass sufficiently near to a fourth, proposed, SSSI to change its ecology. So why does English Nature not oppose the Newbury Bypass? According to Thames and Chilterns Team English Nature: "As a public body, English Nature is not a campaigning organization but rather must present the nature conservation case at Public Inquiry and then abide by the decision made." [1]

This document attempts to demonstrate that English Nature's predecessor, the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), never presented a full or balanced conservation case at the 1988 Public Inquiry into the "preferred" western route of the Newbury Bypass, and consequently, the decision made by the Public Inquiry inspector and subsequent decisions by the Secretaries of State, were ill-informed. Since 1988, English Nature has said and done nothing in public that might be described as "vigorous opposition" to the Newbury Bypass, despite the fact that the road has been described as "massively destuctive of a largely intimate landscape unable to absorb the impact of a major highway" [17], and "one of the most environmentally damaging road proposals in the country at the present time" [14].

This document considers the flawed case the NCC presented at the 1988 Inquiry, It questions English Nature's failure to speak out against the lack of a full environmental impact assessment (EIA). It examines English Nature's attitude to the protected habitats and species on the western route. It considers the extraordinarily selective picture of the bypass presented by English Nature's official "Position Statement". It considers the possible conflict of interest of one of English Nature's staff, who spent his spare time lobbying for the Newbury bypass to be constructed. And it considers English Nature's role in nature conservation more generally, and asks whether the organization is genuinely fulfilling its stated role to "give the lead in sustaining and enriching England's natural heritage for all to enjoy now and in the future" [34].

We asked Chief Executive of English Nature, Dr Derek Langslow, to comment on the issues raised in this report. He declined: "I see no need to add to the extremely full answers which you have already received in your previous conversations with English Nature". [97]


"English Nature is not a campaigning organization, but rather must present the nature conservation case at Public Inquiry and then abide by the decision made" [1]

So states English Nature's "Position Statement" on the Newbury Bypass. Accepting that this is indeed the role of the UK's statutory nature watchdog, the first question must be whether English Nature did indeed present a proper case at the Newbury Bypass inquiry.

There were two public inquiries at Newbury, but only one major one concerned with the choice ("line") of route the road would take, held between June and November 1988; at the March 1992 inquiry, the Inspector refused to reopen matters covered in 1988, and the inquiry was effectively restricted to considering only the major bypass interchanges.

East versus west

The 1988 inquiry boiled down to a choice between minor variations of three main routes: the DoT's preferred western route; a central route incorporating some or all of the existing A34 bypass; and a route to the east of Newbury. At that time, it was not permissible to contest a major road with non-road alternatives and, as a result, the SPEWBY (Society for the Prevention of a Western Bypass) group of residents opposed to the western route found themselves pushing hard for the eastern alternative, "which would have resulted in severe damage to Thatcham Reedbeds SSSI" [14].

"English Nature's predecessor, the NCC, attended a Public Inquiry held in 1988 to examine possible routes for a Newbury Bypass. Its primary concern at that time was to protect the Thatcham Reedbeds SSSI from destruction which would have resulted from the eastern route proposal." [1]

Why was this the NCC's primary concern? Surely its primary concern should have been to present a full and balanced assessment of the environmental costs and benefits associated with all the proposed alternatives and thereby allow the Inspector and the public to make a proper choice between them. This simply did not happen.

The eastern route, on which the NCC chose to focus, was an objector's route, and the western route was already the DoT's preferred alternative. Given that the preferred route is almost always chosen at public inquiries (in recent years, public inquiries have turned down only 5 schemes out of 146 -- just 3.5% [2]), it seems odd to say the least that the NCC chose to concentrate on the objector's route. Why was it the NCC's "primary concern" to "protect the Thatcham Reedbeds SSSI from destruction" on the east, while failing to protect Snelsmore Common SSSI, and the Kennet and Lambourn rivers (known to be of SSSI quality at the time) on the west?

Some people believe that English Nature tried to protect Snelsmore Common to the best of its ability and, indeed, it did secure a change to the line of the road, moving it away from the Common's protected heathland. Nevertheless, whatever agreements were reached before the Public Inquiry, a careful examination of the proofs of evidence suggests the NCC knowingly presented a more damning and detailed case against the eastern route than against the western one, deliberately sacrificing the important ecological sites to the west of Newbury in an attempt to protect Thatcham Reedbeds on the east. The NCC opposed the eastern route, but not the western one. We believe the nature of the deal between the Department of Transport and the NCC must now be disclosed; specifically, did it include an agreement by the NCC not to oppose the line of the western route if Thatcham Reedbeds and/or Snelsmore Common's heathland were untouched?

The Proof of Evidence given by the NCC amounted to 9500 words of text and an appendix of 38 pages on the eastern route. However, the data on the developer's preferred route confined itself to a mere 798 words of text and an appendix containing maps and three pages of information on Snelsmore Common. Asked to comment on this disparity, Thames & Chilterns Team Manager of English Nature, David Henshilwood, stated: "There is no significance in the length of the relevant submissions to the 1988 Public Inquiry by the Nature Conservancy Council".[3] Given the extraordinary quality of the ecology on the western route, it seems hard to explain why one submission should be so much longer than the other and so much more comprehensive. And indeed, if the NCC's intention was to present a balanced case at a public inquiry, surely the relative submissions should have been roughly similar? The disparity was not merely one of length. As the appendix to this document clearly shows, the eastern route submission was altogether more comprehensive, and environmental impacts recognized and assessed for the eastern route were not even mentioned in the western route submission. For the eastern route, the NCC's proof of evidence contained information on bird and mammal fatalities, intrusion and traffic noise, and the effects of toxic run-off, but no consideration at all of these effects on the western route. In the case of the riverine environment, and despite the fact that the Kennet and Lambourn rivers were known to be of SSSI quality at the time, no information was presented on the environmental impact on them by the NCC; the only data has been presented since the inquiry by the National Rivers Authority (NRA), who objected to the route on the grounds of environmental impact and flood defence [35].

To the credit of the NCC, Mr Keith Porter did object to the construction of the massive embankment across the Kennet valley [40], pointing out the probable SSSI quality of the area, the vital role of wetlands, the considerable invertebrate interest (with a number of regionally and nationally important species), and the greatly increased chance of extinction of these species if the embankment were constructed. The NCC recommended the replacement of the proposed embankment with a long bridge, at least five metres high, both to minimize the shading effect and the biological barrier presented to the movement of species. This was the only significant piece of evidence against the western route presented to the 1988 Inquiry by the NCC; it amounted to mitigation of the existing design, rather than opposition to it. Moreover, Mr Porter's Proof of Evidence was slight (1729 words) compared to Mr Graham Bathe's evidence (9500 words) against the eastern route. The crucially important point is that many of the arguments advanced against the construction of an eastern route across the Thatcham Reedbeds wetland SSSI applied equally well to the wetlands of the Kennet valley.

Environmental impacts of the western Route

So was the environmental impact of the western route ever properly assessed? Asked to "please confirm that English Nature or its predecessor has assessed the direct, indirect, or other effects of the construction, operation, or maintenance of the road, and please list what those effects would be on each habitat or species" [4], David Henshilwood replied: "English Nature does not have the resources to commission the detailed scientific studies which would be necessary to quantify these effects."[5]. The effects were, nevertheless, assessed for the Eastern route and presented to the public inquiry by the NCC. And the real question is not whether English Nature has the resources now, but whether the NCC had the resources then. David Henshilwood continued: "... the onus is on the developer to demonstrate that appropriate assessments have been undertaken... I consider that all the relevant facts were presented to the Public Inquiry". [5]

But were they? It seems "English Nature was unable to obtain permission to access some areas of the proposed route to carry out our own survey" [6] The NCC's Proof of Evidence at the Public Inquiry confirms that on all but one occasion, access was restricted to public footpaths [40]. The NCC used information supplied by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITE), described by the local wildlife trusts as "inadequate" and "a highly superficial ecological assessment" [7]. Furthermore, English Nature was unaware of the presence of bats, badgers, and dormice at certain parts of the route [6] as late as May 1994, and apparently unaware of the rare mollusc Vertigo Moulinsiana at sites near the river Kennet even after clearance work had commenced in 1996. The assessment of particular species is considered later.

Even the July 1995 Highways Agency review concluded: "As [protected] species were not detected at the time of the Inquiry, no account was taken of them in assessing the impact of the western Bypass and to that extent the impact of the scheme was under-estimated"[9].

As Friends of the Earth's Tony Juniper points out, the inadequate environmental assessments only stored problems up for later, most notably in the case of the ice-age snail Vertigo moulinsiana: "If the Government had carried out a proper environmental impact assessment in the first place, it wouldn't be in this ridiculous position now. The information now available on the snails should have been collected earlier and heard at the 1988 Public Inquiry that approved the bypass. If the Inquiry had this information then, it would have led to a quite different decision about where to put the road." [91]

The disparity between the environmental assessments of the eastern and western routes at Newbury has happened on road projects before. In its Article 169 proceedings against the UK government over the A406 East London River Crossing at Oxleas Wood, the European Environment Commission (DGXI) highlighted the glaring imbalance between environmental assessments of preferred and alternative routes as one of the reasons for its intervention [8]. The disparity in environmental assessments is one more episode in the long-runningsaga of the DoT's failure to uphold the spirit of European environmental legislation; at both Oxleas Wood and Newbury, it used its obligation to conduct rigorous environmental assessments as a tactic to push its preferred route at the expense of a less-destructive alternative.

A new opportunity: the Mawhinney review

Even if we were to accept that English Nature and the NCC presented the best information available to them in 1988, it is clear that much new information has come to light since then, and we have a better general understanding of its significance (combining our better understanding of the nightjars at Snelsmore Common with the recent Dutch research on the effects of traffic noise on bird breeding patterns is a good example of this [20,79]).

Throughout 1994, Friends of the Earth (FoE), the Berkshire Buckinghamshire and Oxforshire Naturalists Trust (BBONT), and the National Rivers Authority (NRA) continued to uncover things the public inquiry had missed. On 19th December 1994, Secretary of State for Transport Dr Brian Mawhinney put the Newbury bypass on hold for a period of review expected to last one year. This was an excellent opportunity for English Nature to present an updated environmental case. On 24th June, little more than a fortnight before Dr Mawhinney's shock decision to proceed with the road, we asked David Henshilwood: "to take advantage of the current review period to make known the full environmental impact of the road" [4]. He declined, using Dr Mawhinney's decision to commit the road as an excuse to say nothing: "Your... point relating to actions to be taken during the current review period has been overtaken by events". [5]

English Nature chose to stand -- or fall -- by the flawed and partial evidence the NCC had presented at the Public Inquiry; while the rest of the country's mood continued to shift very firmly away from road-building, English Nature took no notice: "The Public Inquiry decision was made against the background of legislation and Government policy then in place. The fact that legislation and policy have changed subsequently is a matter for Government -- not for English Nature." [1] This statement, from an organization that states: "The service we deliver will be founded on a strategic approach to the conservation of wildlife and natural features." [34]

English Nature had previously stated: "If public consultation is reopened for the various options on routes for the A34 bypass, English Nature will again present evidence and review its position as necessary according to the information available at the time" [6]. The Mawhinney review presumably did not qualify as "public consultation", even though Berkshire and Hampshire County Councils, the CBI, Friends of the Earth, and others all made representations. Having seen off the eastern route at the 1988 Inquiry, could English Nature have called for a tactical reopening of the public inquiry to see off the western route too? According to David Henshilwood: "The scale of the problems encountered did not warrant recommending that the public inquiry be reopened." [58]

English Nature seems to resent the prevailing strength of feeling against the bypass: "Few of the environmental bodies now protesting about the bypass made any representation to the public inquiry, but the NCC... was heavily involved in opposing aspects of the different routes proposed." [51] The NCC, as we have seen, was "heavily involved" in the DoT's promotion of the western route, in the sense that it knowingly opposed it with much less vigour than it opposed the Eastern route. That it has taken other bodies so long to establish the truth about the environmental impact of the western route is "tribute" in large part to the incomplete analysis the NCC presented at that time. It is wrong to suggest, as Mr Simon Melville has done, that these organizations should make no representations at such a late stage: "If they had a point to make they should have taken part in the democratic public consultation process" [78], for on the basis of the partial information presented by the NCC, these NGOs probably saw no reason to become involved at that stage. (As the DoT acknowledges, BBONT did, in any case, make submissions to the 1988 Public Inquiry [12].)


If the Department of Transport had complied with the requirements of EC directive 85/337/EEC (the "EIA directive") [10], things would have been rather different. There would have existed at the public inquiry a rigorous and definitive statement on the full environmental effects of the western route. Having written a dispensation into the Highways Act, 1980, to exempt from consideration projects that were "in the pipeline" when the EIA directive came into force in 1988 [41], the DoT claimed it did not need to carry out an EIA for the Newbury project.

When the project subsequently became the subject of a complaint to the European Commission, the DoT stood firm: "We do not consider that the scheme contravenes European environmental law. The Government has long differed from the European Commission's interpretation of the applicability of Directive 85/337/EEC." [11] Nevertheless, the DoT maintained that "the direct and indirect effects of the project on flora and fauna were identified, described and assessed, and taken fully into account in reaching a decision on the published proposals." [12] Given that the DoT and the UK Government were fully aware of the requirements of the EIA directive some years before it was implemented and could have exempted particular projects under article 2 paragraph 3 if they had wanted to do so; given that they claim to have carried out assessments equivalent to an EIA; and given that there is necessarily no precise statement of what an EIA should contain, beyond the vague outline in annex III, it follows logically that the only reason for not pointing to a series of assessments and calling them "the Newbury EIA" was because the assessments themselves were wholly inadequate. This topic is considered at length elsewhere [13].

The "pipeline point" has still not been tested in the European Court of Justice. The most recent view, that of the European Ombudsman, is: "the conclusion that Directive 85/337/EEC does not apply to 'pipeline' cases is probably correct. It must be recalled, however, that the Court of Justice is the highest authority on aspects of Community Law". Others maintain that this interpretation is incorrect [96].

What of English Nature? As new environmental information was discovered about Newbury, several NGOs repeatedly pointed to the need for a full EIA to be carried out. RSPB stated: "The proposed route was not subject to a formal Environmental Impact Assessment... The impact of the western route on the environment could be considerable and warrants Environmental Assessment." [14] Those sentiments were echoed by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, BBONT, and other NGOs.

But not by English Nature, whose Position Statement on the Newbury Bypass [1] makes no mention of the lack of EIA, or the failure to present such a document at the public inquiry. This is particularly ironic, as the NCC's former Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Norman Moore, has stated:

"... it would be vandalism of the first order if they [Newbury's protected sites] were to be destroyed without an Environmental Assessment being carried out." [15] And English Nature's national position is to "continue to oppose vigorously road proposals that adversely and irreversibly affect Sites of Special Scientific Interest..." [16], and one would expect this to include pressing for an EIA. David Henshilwood maintains: "I consider that all the relevant facts were presented to the Public Inquiry." [5]

English Nature's position statement on Roads and Nature Conservation says it will support "full and public consideration of environmental effects of transport policies and programmes" and "seek full and extended use of the Environmental Assessment Regulation, including early publication of detailed environmental appraisal of options, and encourage use of the environmental assessment process for all road schemes, even where it is not mandatory" [16]. So from English Nature's point of view, the applicability of directive 85/337/EEC is irrelevant. Why, then, did it not call for an EIA at Newbury when the opportunity repeatedly presented itself?


English Nature's attitude to the designated and protected SSSIs raises further questions.

Snelsmore Common SSSI


Thames and Chilterns Team English Nature's position statement on the Newbury Bypass states: "The NCC did not object to the loss of a small part of the Snelsmore Common SSSI, having already secured an alteration to the preferred route..." [1]

Can this be right? English Nature's national position on roads and nature conservation notes a duty to "continue to oppose vigorously road proposals that adversely and irreversibly affect Sites of Special Scientific Interest." [16]

The Position Statement implies that only part of the Snelsmore SSSI would be affected, but this is clearly contradicted by the consensus of opinion on habitat fragmentation (see the detailed discussion under "Kennet and Lambourn riverine SSSIs"); presumably, if the area of woodland affected were not part of the Common habitat, it would not be included within the SSSI boundary.

The DoT claims "the part of Snelsmore Common directly affected is 1.5 acres of secondary woodland" [12]. Nevertheless, it is ancient woodland, and it is within the SSSI boundary. More important than this, the DoT does not mention significant indirect effects of the bypass, which would be increased by the massive embankment that would carry the road through the area of Snelsmore Common affected, including:

a) Noise: RSPB have stated: "Recent research in the Netherlands (Reijnen et al, 1995 [20]) demonstrated a reduction in the breeding densities of a number of woodland bird species adjacent to main roads. Road noise was identified as probably the most important cause... The topography of Snelsmore Common and the fact that the road will be raised on an embankment as it passes through the Cromwell's Glen/Packer's Copse areas suggests to me that road noise will be significantly increased over much of the SSSI." [21, emphasis added] Earlier work by Reijnen et al [79] suggests that the effect of increased noise disturbance may take tens or hundreds or metres to dissipate.

b) Microclimatic effects: Beltrando et al of Denis Diderot University, Paris, have found rail embankments can have a significant effect on microclimate, making air nearby as much as 3øC cooler [22].

c) Light pollution: Impacts flying insects, owls, nightjars, and other birdlife.

d) Localised acid-rain and run-off: Toxic run-off from road surfaces includes more than 30 substances, including cadmium, lead, salts from de-icing, and herbicides from verge control; construction works can increase suspended solids in water courses and may lead to the total disappearance of filter-feeding invertebrates. Apart from the obvious polluting effect on water-courses, "spray-off" can travel significant distances from road embankments in aerosol form; this must be of particular concern at the Snelsmore embankment. The effects of run-off are detailed elsewhere [46].

e) Other effects: These will include increased access disturbance, both during construction and operation; rubbish dumping; and "road kills" caused by species attempting to cross the road. [87].

It is also important to remember exactly what is meant by a "habitat"; species should not be assumed to fit neatly into the islands humans choose to designate, and their needs are very diverse. For example, a blackcap requires a minimum area of woodland of 300 square metres, whereas a woodpecker needs two hectares. A moorhen may be content with a pond of 10 square metres, but a great crested grebe needs one hectare to nest and feed. [88] Rare butterflies can move to colonize new areas in a maximum single step of 0.6-1.0 km for the black hairstreak, and 8.65 km for the silver spotted skipper [87].

In summary, English Nature is wrong to imply that only "a small part of the Snelsmore Common SSSI" would be affected by the road; habitat fragmentation and indirect effects will disrupt much more of the SSSI than the area lost to the "footprint" of the road.


At the Bar-End to Compton extension of the M3, notorious now for the damage it caused to Twyford Down (although rather less well known for its high-level embankment across the Itchen watermeadows SSSI), English Nature actively opposed the DoT. Ultimately, it slowed construction of the road by insisting on its full four month's notice of entry to the SSSI land, as stipulated in the Wildlife & Countryside Act [29], and refused to allow "the stripping and translocation of topsoil before the outcome of the issue between the DoT and the European Commission." [30]

At Newbury, English Nature granted permission to enter Snelsmore Common SSSI within two days of application, despite an outstanding legal complaint to the European Commission against the DoT over its failure to carry out an EIA. In other words, English Nature granted permission for part of the SSSI to be destroyed, even though this might subsequently have been ruled illegal by the Commission. Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth described this as "an acid test of English Nature's conservation credibility. It should revoke the consent and wait for Brussels' opinion." [30] It did no such thing. One of its employees subsequently took part in a pro-bypass delegation to Brussels, albeit as a member of Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council, to lobby Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard to drop proceedings against the UK government [31].


The high quality of the Snelsmore Common is demonstrated by the existence of two rare heathland habitats listed in annex I of the EC Habitats & Species Directive (92/43/EC) [32]: 31.11 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix, and 31.2 dry heaths. Snelsmore Common does not, however, appear in the proposed list of possible SACs in the UK [33], despite Professor Norman Moore's view that it is "one of the last and best surviving examples of heath left in the region." [15] (Professor Moore is a world expert on heathland and former Chief Scientific Officer to English Nature's predecessor, the NCC.)


According to supporters of the road: "Thanks to English Nature's successful negotiations before the inquiry... the DoT is purchasing and donating to the owners, Newbury District Council, three areas of 'equally advantageous' exchange land." [56] The land will not, however, be 'equally advantageous', for the public will not enjoy the same rights of access. The new land will be right next to a four-lane highway; the old land will be underneath it.

Newbury District Council describes the exchange land as a great victory for conservation, but it is no such thing. The exchange land has always been there for the flora and fauna that use it. From their point of view, the exchange land habitat will be degraded by construction of the road, not improved by it. It is highly disingenuous to suggest that "exchange land" that is not reclaimed from some other use, as in this case, has any value for conservation that it did not have before the exchange.

Kennet and Lambourn riverine SSSIs

According to its catchment plan, "The river Kennet is a unique habitat with excellent fisheries and a very high diversity of both aquatic and marginal plants and aquatic invertebrates. Therefore, there is a need to maintain the existing high ecological value of the catchment." [35] English Nature confirms that: "Water quality and flows are a particular concern in retaining its remarkable diversity of water plants and its value as a trout fishery." [89].

The NCC did voice considerable reservations about the proposed bypass crossing of the Kennet valley: "The NCC... did object to the proposed construction of an embankment across the Kennet valley, recommending instead the use of a stilted flyover." [1]

David Henshilwood reports: "The inquiry inspector decided that the extra cost was not justified by the environmental benefit." [51] But could the Inspector reasonably have been expected to balance the cost and benefit, given the flawed case the NCC presented to the 1988 inquiry? By under-representing or choosing to ignore the environmental impacts of the western route, the NCC also under-represented the environmental benefits of mitigation measures like a stilted viaduct over the Kennet valley.

The environmental impact of the Western route is now considered to be much more severe than people realized in 1988, and English Nature must bear the responsibility for this. Although David Henshilwood happily states: "I consider that all the relevant facts were presented to the public inquiry" [5], it is a fact that much new information has come to light since the Inquiry: 15 out of the 24 surveys in reports on the Kennet valley ecology held by English Nature in Newbury have been written since the 1988 inquiry [5]. Amongst them, the important Lee Donaldson [36] and Bioscan [37] reports showed that both the Kennet and Lambourn rivers were of higher quality than previously thought; ironically, the reports were commissioned by the NRA, not by English Nature.

Effects of the road

English Nature is curiously reluctant to detail what effect the road might have on the riverine environments; there is no clue in the Position Statement [1], and we can find no stronger statement than David Henshilwood's rather lame suggestion that: "English Nature does not guarantee that there will be no effect on wildlife." [38]

The consensus seems to be that the effects can be divided into several areas: loss of SSSI habitat, interruption of the river corridor by the road embankments, upstream flooding, changes in fluvial geomorphology (the "character" of the river flow and its effect on things like the river bank geology and ecology), impacts of run-off during construction and operation of the road, and other miscellaneous effects. Considering these one by one:

a) Habitat loss:

David Henshilwood has stated: "The construction of the crossings is unlikely to result in direct loss of SSSI habitat, since the width allowed for the bridge spans over the rivers is sufficient to accommodate the SSSI boundary at the crossing points." [42] RSPB contend: "The bypass will result in direct loss of floodplain habitat and will sever the ecological corridor provided by the river system. Such damage to a habitat of SSSI quality appears to be inconsistent with the Government's commitment that 'wherever possible, new routes must be kept away from protected areas such as AONBs and SSSIs' (PPG13)." [14] A100 acre gravel pit will be constructed on the land owned by Suttons Estates at Speen Moore in the Kennet valley, immediately adjoining the bypass route and very near to the river Kennet, specifically to provide aggregates for the road; this will also result in habitat loss.

In fact, English Nature has been highly disingenuous over the question of habitat loss. The Kennet and Lambourn SSSIs take in only the rivers themselves, not the riverbanks. In at least one other riverine SSSI currently in the process of designation, the SSSI boundary takes in both the river and 10 metres of the riverbank on each side. Why was a different process used for the Kennet and Lambourn? So that there would be no "direct loss of SSSI habitat" to the Newbury Bypass?

b) Habitat fragmentation:

What does David Henshilwood mean by "no direct loss of SSSI habitat"? The Kennet valley will be bisected by a long, wide, high embankment not unlike a city wall, which will fragment the riverine habitat; both the Kennet and Lambourn rivers will be similarly affected, and there seems general agreement on what the effect will be:

* A 1992 study by Lee Donaldson Associates for the NRA identified important species on both rivers and concluded: "The flight patterns of the species using the [river] corridor will be

heavily affected by the construction of the crossing. Habitat will be fragmented and the river corridor interrupted." [36]

* A 1994 study by Bioscan for the NRA also identified important bird, butterfly, moth, and dragonfly species, at least two birds listed in annex I of the Wild Birds Directive (kingfisher and common tern), and other important species, including heron and raptor (hobby, sparrowhawk, and kestrel). It concluded; "existing information on habitat fragmentation and other effects of road construction activities suggest, in combination with the field results, that effects of embankment construction on wildlife are likely to occur." [37]

* Even the Proof of Evidence of the NCC at the Public Inquiry concluded that the semi-natural/wetland habitats on the route were of high quality, with a number of nationally and regionally uncommon species. It concluded that fragmentation or isolation of habitats would reduce their richness by creating a barrier to the free movement of species, the barrier itself created by changes in vegetation structure and microclimate. It pointed out that the "barrier effect" would be particularly marked where an open dry carriageway and dry landscaped embankment was imposed on a wetland system -- precisely the intended design of the western bypass near the Kennet river [40].

* A recent study of habitat fragmentation by English Nature [87] states: "There is sufficient evidence that this is potentially an important cause of species decline to justify opposition to further habitat fragmentation." Furthermore, it discovered that some species are much more vulnerable to fragmentation than others, with the most vulnerable including whiskered bat, Daubenton's bat, dormouse, and otter -- all to be found on or near the bypass route.

Strangely, though it points out English Nature's opposition to an embankment, the Position Statement on the Newbury Bypass [1] makes no mention of these drastic effects on the riverine environment. Queried about this, David Henshilwood said: "English Nature's view remains unchanged from that expressed by NCC at Public Inquiry; namely that we have reservations about the effect which a bridge [embankment?] may have, and we would have preferred to see a viaduct instead." [42] Friends of the Earth pursued the point and asked why reference to the habitat quality and probable impacts of the embankments were omitted from English Nature's Position Statement [43]; David Henshilwood replied that "there is no particular reason... beyond the fact that the statement is a necessarily brief, general summary produced for interested members of the general public." [38] The "necessarily brief" statement stretches to four columns on two sides of A4 paper; one of those columns is taken up almost entirely by the English Nature logo -- plenty of space, in other words, for a brief summary of the effects of the road. Surely an "interested member of the general public" would be interested in that information?

* The NCC's guidelines on SSSI site selection state: "loss of or damage to certain parts would then detract significantly from the value of the whole... [and] cannot be justified by the survival of the larger fraction." [18] And according to a recent report by RSPB: "Transport infrastructure can divide a habitat, fragmenting it into smaller units 'which may be too small to support the original diversity of species', thus 'leading to the possible reduction below a minimum threshold for successful regulation or maintenance of the species or habitat' (NCC 1990). Stonechats and Dartford Warbler populations are reduced by splitting their habitats: 'if the area is cut in half, the total population in each half will be less than half the original population' (Moore, English Nature, 1992)" [19].

c) Upstream flooding:

Between March and May 1994, the NRA requested the DoT to issue warnings to landowners of increased flood risk from the narrow bridges proposed for the Kennet valley embankment. The flood risk was estimated to be up to 500 mm in certain conditions; this would not normally be expected to exceed 75 mm [49]. An increase in upstream flooding will presumably affect the ecology of the Kennet floodplain (a small part of which is a proposed SSSI) in some way. In April 1994, the River Kennet Catchment Plan noted that the NRA was: "particularly concerned that river crossings (as designed) of the proposed A34 Newbury Bypass may increase flood risk and threaten ecology. The NRA continues to oppose current designs." [35].

The bridges have now been widened and English Nature confidently states: "All the bridges across the rivers have been redesigned... to make sure that the two river SSSIs are not damaged by the road construction" [51]. According to the logic English Nature used to designated the SSSIs, only the rivers and waterbodies were of sufficient scientific interest or concern to them; but the decision to widen the bridges suggests very strongly that the SSSI boundary should have included an area of the riverbanks to begin with.

The Highways Agency has only recently agreed to compromise on the bridge designs. As late as August 1995, Barry Winter, the NRA's local planning manager, stated: "Even after quite a number of meetings, they have not been prepared to change their design. We have reached deadlock." [72] The inadequate, last minute redesign was criticized by Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth: "A quiet deal has been done behind closed doors to give the illusion that the Government cares about wildlife." [73]

Moreover, the increase in bridge width proposed by engineers Mott Macdonald and the Highways Agency is much less than that requested by the NRA. So it is presumably still the NRA's view that "the bridge dimension proposal will not allow a suitable river corridor to be continued through the embankment and this will be detrimental to the wildlife and the water embankment". [49]

d) Fluvial geomorphology:

This might be described as the way in which the flow of a particular river gives it its unique character. It includes hydrological and geochemical factors, the flow of energy in the moving water, and the way the river meanders. By constraining the Kennet and Lambourn rivers with narrow bridge openings, the bypass would affect the flow regime and the meander, and could impact riverine habitats "for many miles" downstream [45].

e) Run-off:

The probable effects of uncontrolled run-off and spray-off during construction, operation, and maintenance are detailed elsewhere [46], although this information has never been made publicly available. After repeated pressure from the NRA, and particularly since the out-of-court victory of Mr Mohamed Al Fayed in seeking compensation against the cumulative pollution of his land from the M25 [47], it seems likely the Newbury bypass will feature "state of the art" controls for run-off [48]. Nevertheless, Mr Al Fayed's scientific consultant, Dr Neil Ward, has examined the Newbury proposals and concluded that run-off pollution will still occur. [74] "State of the art" controls introduced on Mr Al Fayed's estate still failed to prevent illegal levels of contamination after heavy rainfall. The controls include the use of reed beds to capture polluted run-off, but these are supposed to be established for three years before use, or even longer where difficult effluents are involved; no reed beds have been introduced at Newbury so far.

Moreover, construction works could severely impact the quality of either river; discharges during construction will not be prevented by run-off mitigation measures designed principally to control surface discharges once the road opens. Bickmore & Dutton (1984) found that concentrations of suspended solids in streams can be increased by spill from infrastructure works, thus affecting the flow, volume, and composition of the water (i.e. impacting on fluvial geomorphology as well as water quality): "an increase in turbidity [muddiness]... may cause abrasion damage and gill blockage in fish and may lead to the total disappearance of filter-feeding invertebrates". [46] Accidental spills (e.g. tanker accidents) must also be a grave concern.

f) Other effects:

The complexity of the effects on the riverine environment is illustrated by Mr John Peters, formerly Water Quality Division Head of the Thames Groundwater Monitoring Sites at Bagnor [13], an idyllic village that lies on the river Lambourn: "The [bypass] works are so close as to affect the lighting of the site at low sun angles. This is exacerbated by the proposed tree screening of the embankment... the river downstream... is likely to be drastically altered by both the bridge works, shading effects, microclimatic effects and possible effects of discharge from road drains..."


Together, these effects could drastically impair the riverine ecology of the Kennet valley -- yet they merit no mention in the English Nature Position Statement [1]. Moreover, with the exception of the barrier effect of the embankment, the effects on the western route were not considered at the Public Inquiry. An Environmental Impact Assessment would allow these effects to be properly studied.

They were, nevertheless, considered for the eastern route [48]. Citing a 270 page report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Graham Bathe's evidence to the Public Inquiry concluded that the most damaging effects of construction in wetlands were direct habitat loss, followed by hydrological change. It was argued that an Eastern route through Thatcham Reedbeds SSSI would destroy wetland habitat, impact bird populations, damage an entomological site, disrupt the hydrological regime, disturb wildlife during construction, inhibit plant and animal movements, and damage flora and fauna through the subtle effects of pollution. All of these apply equally to the western route's wetlands, so why did the NCC downplay them, and why does English Nature continue to do so?

The English Nature Position Statement [1] states: "The designation of rivers [as SSSIs] is primarily to conserve the interest of the waterbodies themselves although in some cases adjacent wildlife habitats of high wildlife value may be included within the eventual SSSIs". The ridiculous implication here is that the waterbodies, the water, and the riverbank environment are somehow separate entities that could exist in isolation, rather than mutually-dependent components of a complex ecosystem.

The Position Statement goes on to say: "The Rivers Kennet and Lambourn are being proposed for notification as SSSIs in the full knowledge that the Newbury Bypass is likely to be constructed across the SSSI." Simon Festing of Friends of the Earth points out that this statement is misleading to a non-expert: "The notification is based on ecological criteria only, and... no account is taken of the potential damage from developments in the notification process, (for example, English Nature recently notified a site in Bolton with the full knowledge of plans to destroy it completely for a waste tip)." [43] David Henshilwood's reply: "I confirm that English Nature's notification of SSSI is based on ecological criteria." [38] -- that is, it takes no account of the damage.

Indeed, English Nature now seems to imply there will be no damage to the SSSIs: "All the bridges across the rivers have been redesigned with the cooperation of the Highways Agency and their engineers, to make sure that the two river SSSIs are not damaged by the road construction." [51] ("Construction" presumably means "operation"?) Was that a promise from the Highways Agency to English Nature, or from English Nature to the public? Either way, it is grossly misleading, because the main damage to the rivers may occur during the construction of the bridges and the embankment, and not during their operation.

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs):

"Under the [Habitats] Directive, the member states agree to establish a series of protected sites, which, when designated, will be called Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)." [59] The new SACs will be combined eventually with existing Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds to form a European network of conservation sites called Natura 2000.

To become part of the Natura 2000 network, a specific habitat or species listed in annex I or annex II of the Habitats Directive must first be selected for a national list of sites; each member state had to submit its national list to the European Commission by June 1995. From June 1995 until June 1998, member states and the European Commission agree on a combined European list of sites. Not until a specific site reaches the European list does it qualify for the full protection outlined in article 6 of the Habitats Directive. In theory, this means the Habitats Directive offers little protection until 1998. A legal challenge by Friends of the Earth and others [83] attempted to prove that interim protection is offered by Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) note 9, but as Mr Justice Sedley stated: no protection applies "to sites which have not been selected by the Commission from member states' candidate lists" [84].

Nevertheless, as former environment Commissioner Paleokrassas has stated: "The Commission can agree that, in certain circumstances, the destruction of natural habitats in the period before directive 92/43/EEC comes fully into force may be so grave as to undermine and/or jeopardize the attaintment of the objectives of that directive. Whether or not an instance or instances of destruction would give rise to a breach of article 5 of the EEC treaty is a matter to be judged in the light of particular circumstances. Equally the power of the Commission to intervene and the appropriateness of intervention would depend on such circumstances." [60]

So do any habitats or species on the route of the Newbury bypass merit the designation of SACs? No site on or near the Newbury bypass appeared on the current UK list when it was first published in March 1995.

As a result, in May 1995, we asked David Henshilwood to "please confirm that you have assessed all habitats along the proposed bypass route for SAC eligibility" [61]. David Henshilwood confirmed: "The route has been assessed." [26] Asked "Which habitats along the route do you intend to nominate as SACs?", he replied: "None, pending publication by Government of the list of possible river SACs". At that time, David Henshilwood confirmed the presence on or near the route of the the following habitats/species covered by the directive: annex I, 24.4, floating vegetation of Ranunculus of plain and submountainous rivers, 31.11, Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix, 31.2 dry heaths; annex 2, Vertigo moulinsiana.

After further questioning about the applicability of the Habitats Directive, David Henshilwood commented: "The provisions of EEC Directives 79/409 and 92/43 relating to SPAs and SACs do not apply, since there are currently no sites on the route of the bypass which are proposed or designated as either SPA or SAC." [5] This comment does not apply to the bats or dormice on the route; these "strictly-protected" species are protected by article 12 of the Habitats Directive [32] irrespective of the designation of SACs.

The areas of most interest from the point of view of the directive are clearly Snelsmore Common SSSI (which English Nature had already ruled out as an SPA), and the Kennet and Lambourn rivers, proposed at that time as SSSIs. It seemed English Nature had ruled these out too: "It is Government policy that any site must be an SSSI before it is considered as a pSAC. Only interests which fall within SSSI, or sites which would qualify as SSSI, will be considered on the route of the bypass as far as annexes I and II are concerned." [62]

Was this the case? Dr John Hopkins, of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), responsible for coordinating scientific work on the Habitats Directive in the UK, stated: "SSSI/ASSI status was not a pre-requisite of sites being recommended to Government but, as might be expected, a majority of sites judged to be of European significance were already notified as SSSIs" [59].

In other words, although the Kennet and Lambourn rivers were not SSSIs at that time, they could have been put forward for consideration in the list of possible SACs published in March 1995 [63], given their interest for the floating vegetation Ranunculus, or the snail Vertigo moulinsiana; the list itself was ultimately restricted to SSSIs only [63]. Why were they not put forward, and was this an "omission" on the part of English Nature?

According to Dr Hopkins, "English Nature and the country agencies were not the initial source of recommendations for the site list. Rather the site recommendations were made by groups of national experts employed by the country conservation agencies and JNCC." [64] More specifically: "It is very wrong to say the sites are supplied by the local branches of English Nature. In practice, the local branches of English Nature... have played a minor role in the site selection process." [65] David Henshilwood states: "No attempt was made to resurvey the whole country; evaluations were based upon information already available concerning SSSI and rare species." [66]

David Henshilwood had previously claimed "the route has been assessed" for SAC eligibility [26]. Asked specifically about the population of Vertigo Moulinsiana at Rack Marsh near the Lambourn, and whether this warranted a proposal for a SAC, he stated: "It is not considered that Rack Marsh is of sufficient European importance to be put forward as a SAC" [26]. (The part of Rack Marsh known as Bagnor island was eventually considered to be of SAC quality and sufficient importance during a later review in early 1996 [80].) Now despite receiving "a large number of recommendations for changes to the list of possible SACs, in all more than 2,500 site related comments" [67], the JNCC received none about the Newbury sites. Moreover, as Dr Hopkins states, he does not "know of any sites proposed by specialists in the preparatory stages of our work on the Directive which are on the route" [65]. So who assessed the Newbury bypass route, and who decided the populations of Vertigo moulinsiana were "not of sufficient European importance"?

Presumably, Thames & Chilterns Team English Nature did so, unilaterally. This seems strange, for as Dr Hopkins points out, expert groups were convened to carry out this task for the country as a whole: "The selection of sites was based upon the advice of expert groups in which relevant experts from each of the statutory conservation agencies... were represented. A coordinators group was established, bringing together senior staff from each of the country conservation agencies... This senior group has the primary responsibility of overseeing the work of site selection and was particularly responsible for ensuring the site list was consistent across the UK, and that... the list of sites recommended to government was a balanced response to the requirement of the Habitats Directive selection criteria". [65]

In other words, English Nature could have put forward the Newbury sites to the expert groups and/or the senior group for proper evaluation; it did not do so. While it may be the case that "local branches of English Nature... played a minor role in the site selection process" [65], David Henshilwood has nevertheless confirmed that "English Nature has recommended sites as possible SAC in accordance with the selection criteria for SACs" [26, emphasis added].

Could the expert groups have spotted and evaluated the Newbury sites without the help of Thames & Chilterns Team English Nature? We think not. The two rivers concerned were not SSSIs during the consultation process. Even if they had been, Vertigo moulinsiana would not have been spotted, for as BBONT noted in December 1995: "We have no record of this species along the A34 route corridor; it is not listed in the SSSI schedules... If it is known to occur there, its omission is a grave concern to BBONT." Why was it not in the SSSI schedules? Presumably because the SSSIs had been defined to exclude the river banks and the areas beyond.

Early in 1996, Friends of the Earth and BBONT continued our campaign for the inclusion of Vertigo moulinsiana in a SAC or SACs on the bypass route. On 15th February, FoE announced that "English Nature has confirmed that it has not carried out a survey on the snail in the 200m strip where the road actually crosses the [Kennet] floodplain." [87] This provoked considerable national media interest [71]. The following day, 80% of callers to a national telephone poll responded "Yes" to the question "Should a tiny rare snail halt the controversial Newbury bypass?" [86] Subsequently, English Nature carried out survey work for the snail at various locations where it had previously been recorded, or evidence suggested it was likely to occur".[80] Despite surveying various other snail habitats, English Nature's team found no better colonies than the ones in Newbury, one directly on the bypass route (at the Lambourn) and one immediately adjacent to it (at the Kennet). Friends of the Earth also carried out surveys.

On 30th May, with the designation of a SAC in prospect, Friends of the Earth announced: "The proposed European reserve... includes eight separate colonies of the snail spread over the floodplains of the Rivers Kennet and Lambourn; two of these would be affected by the bypass route. One colony at Rack Marsh, described by a leading expert [Dr Martin Willing] as holding 'a notable abundance of the species' will be destroyed. The other colony affected, on the River Kennet floodplain, supports 'one of the densest populations seen' by the same expert in 20 years of study. This second site will be damaged by alterations to local hydrology and by pollutants contained in vehicle spray and water draining from the road surface". [91]

On 6th June 1996, the Department of Transport announced that it had awarded the contract to build the road to Costain Civil Engineering Ltd. On the same day, the Department of the Environment and English Nature formally proposed a SAC on the bypass route. The Kennet site would be left in situ; the Lambourn site (Bagnor island) would be dug up and moved to a new site near the river Kennet, very close to the bypass route. The Lambourn site was part of the area David Henshilwood had previously described as "not... of sufficient European importance"[26]. At that time, English Nature's Thames and Chilterns Team commented: "Provided that measures advised by English Nature are successfully implemented, we believe that it should be possible to maintain the overall population within the Kennet and Lambourn Floodplain, and to enhance the distribution of the snail within the areas where these measures are to be carried out" [80]. However, the Highways Agency's own surveyor had previously stated: "The sensitivity of the species to disturbance is clearly demonstrated and it is unlikely that it would be a successful candidate for any species recovery programme". [81]

On 6th June, FoE's director, Charles Secrett, condemned the proposals: "Friends of the Earth will use every lawful method we can to ensure the Government fulfills its legal obligations. It must suspend work on this bypass until a proper assessment of the bypass's effects on the snails and their habitat has been carried out".[92]

Five days later, BBONT, FoE, the Wildlife Trusts, WWF, and local residents Richard and Jan Stephens, sought leave to apply for a judicial review in an attempt to challenge the decisions to let the contract and to fail to include sites affected by the bypass in the candidate list of SACs [82]. On 25th June, Mr Justice Sedley refused the application. Nevertheless, he understood "the applicants' case... that it is an abuse of governmental power to press ahead with a project which may destroy the habitat of a species which, had there been timeous compliance with the Habitats Directive and its domestic enforcement measure, the Conservation (Nature Habitats etc) Regulations 1994, would have enjoyed legal protection from any such threat to its habitat". He commented: "There is... much genuine and scientifically founded doubt on the applicants' part as to the viability of the snail in these conditions. It is evident, too, that the applicants fear that English Nature is not acting as independently of government as it should be." Furthermore, while refusing to accept the "properly presented" legal case, he accepted that it left "significant and troubling" questions. Concluding that the requirements of the Habitats Directive had been met, Mr Justice Sedley described his judgement as "regretful... for one can appreciate the force of the view that if the protection of the natural environment keeps coming second we shall end by destroying our own habitat." [83]

FoE's Charles Secrett commented: "This decision is yet another demonstration of the urgent need for tougher laws to protect Britain's wildlife. The fact that the Government can legally consult on the designation of a European nature reserve while simultaneously allowing a road to damage it is preposterous." [93]

But even if one accepts this argument, the question still remains: given that English Nature knew about the snail in mid 1994, or, at the latest, in July 1995, why did it fail to properly assess the snail habitats for SAC eligibility until mid 1996? How did David Henshilwood arrive at the wholly mistaken view that Rack Marsh was not "of sufficient European importance to be put forward as a SAC" [26]? In the words of Mr Justice Sedley, this is indeed "significant and troubling".


English Nature's treatment of protected species found on the bypass route also raises questions. The species concerned are bats, badgers, dormice, nightjars, Vertigo moulinsiana, and nesting birds.

The NCC did not mention the presence of these protected species at the Public Inquiry in 1988, as the Highways Agency admits: "As the species were not detected at the time of the Inquiry no account was taken of them in assessing the impact of the western bypass and to that extent the impact of the scheme was underestimated. There is no information on the likelihood of these or other protected species being found on other routes so it is not possible to reach a conclusion on any effect on the new balance between the routes." [9] In other words, protected species might be found wherever they choose to build a new road, so it doesn't matter when they do find them.


Before the destruction of trees, English Nature confirmed that several bat species had been located on the route: pipistrelle, brown long-eared, noctule, serotine, Daubenton's, and whiskered [26]. Bats are covered by annex IV of the Habitats Directive [32], included on the lists of "Animals and plant species of community interest in strict need of protection". Article 12 of that directive makes clear the responsibilities of member states, prohibiting:

a) all forms of deliberate capture or killing of specimens of these species in the wild;

b) deliberate disturbance of these species, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing, hibernation, and migration;

c) deliberate destruction or taking of eggs from the wild;

d) deterioration or destruction of breeding sites or resting places.

The only derogation from this appears to be article 16c: "In the interests of public health or public safety, or for other imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment". It seems far from certain that the Newbury Bypass fits this description.

When bats were discovered on the route, English Nature licensed the removal of their roosts A survey was undertaken in 1994 for the Highways Agency's consulting engineers, Mott Macdonald, by Dr Robert Stebbings, a respected bat consultant, listing every tree on route thought to have "bat interest".

This process of systematically removing bat roosts itself caused great controversy, for it continued into November 1994 when some bats had already started hibernating, and witnesses confirm that some bats were destroyed. English Nature issued licenses for this work to continue so late into the year. It was a rather clumsy attempt at conservation, for as a Highways Agency spokeswoman commented at the time: "We are removing the habitats to ensure they are not damaged when roadworks start and to give them a chance to find new homes." [50] However, some doubt has been cast both on the bat survey and the removal of roosts, for a number of roosts on the route appear to have been missed, including those in a brick-built tunnel at the southern end of the route near The Chase, where Daubenton's bats were observed in autumn 1995. This was a particular concern, as all known bat roosts had supposedly been cleared from the route in autumn 1994.

There is no mention of bats in English Nature's Position Statement [1]. David Henshilwood comments: "English Nature is satisfied that the mitigation measures proposed satisfactorily address the requirements to protect bats..." [5]


Badgers were also missed by the Public Inquiry. As English Nature state: "On 16th April 1994, sometime after the DoT had permission to build the road, Dr Robert Stebbings contacted English Nature Licensing Section to query the provisions for badgers and dormice along the proposed line of the road. We were not aware of license applications for work with either species in that area and further enquiries showed that no provisions had been made as both we, and the Department of Transport, were unaware of their presence. A site meeting on 24 May 1994 noted considerable badger activity." [6]

Why did English Nature wait for Dr Stebbings to point out the presence of badgers? Construction of the road was originally scheduled to start during the winter of 1994-1995, so this gave the Highways Agency and Mott Macdonald about seven months to provide artificial setts. This was far from adequate: "Artificial setts should be given some months to settle prior to the original setts being excluded and territory and behavioural patterns of badgers should be assessed over several seasons and ideally over at least two years." [6] On 2nd September 1994, when Friends of the Earth queried the provisions, no licenses had been granted for the exclusion of badgers. Licenses were eventually issued at the end of September 1994, and extended into the hibernation period in November and December in a frantic attempt to relocate badgers prior to the proposed January 1995 start of the road [13]. Following the decision to postpone the road, three artificial setts were constructed in the autumn of 1995 [51].

Ultimately, David Henshilwood was called to the site of clearance works several times during early 1996, and at least two suspected badger setts -- one near Mary Hare school, one in Pen Wood -- were cordoned off. Why had the setts not been identified before tree felling commenced and before heavy plant machinery was moved onto the route? As Friends of the Earth's Tony Juniper commented: "Badgers are big, hairy and have large stripy heads. If they've overlooked these creatures goodness knows what else they've missed. One wonders if they'll find herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the Kennet flood plain next." [68]


Like bats, dormice are covered by annex IV of the Habitats Directive [32], included in the lists of "Animals and plant species of community interest in strict need of protection". According to the Mammal Society: "Their principal requirement is for a diverse habitat featuring several different trees and shrubs to provide food throughout the summer. Coppice management of woodlands can create such conditions; but cleared areas and wide rides may interfere with the movements of dormice, because the animals live almost exclusively in the trees."[94] The definitive Mammal Society Guide to Dormouse Conservation states: "Even in the best places they do not live at high densities (about 6-10 per hectare). If their numbers are reduced, their population soon becomes too small to be viable and they die out. Dormice do not travel far or cross open country, so if they are lost from small woodlands they will probably never reappear." [69]

Following the discovery of dormice in autumn 1994, contractors working for the Highways Agency, under the supervision of Dr Stebbings, rounded up specimens from Redding's Copse, which were subsequently taken into English Nature's "captive breeding programme". [53] More specimens were rounded up during 1995, and it seems English Nature has now "supervised the relocation of 17 dormice" [51].

Although English Nature's position statement mentions this information, it fails to mention the probability of dormice dying of stress during capture and relocation. The Mammal Society states: "Reintroductions of dormice are often suggested, but these require suitable (large) areas of woodland habitat and long areas of supplementary feeding. Captive bred dormice often do not thrive and wild-caught animals are unlikely to be available in sufficient numbers." [94].

According to Roads Minister John Watts: "Dormice were relocated so successfully that a pregnant dormouse gave birth to six offspring at the new location." [70] According to the Mammal Society: "If fewer than 20 animals are released there is a high risk of failure". [94].


Snelsmore Common is particularly noted for its small population of nightjars, theoretically protected under annex I of the EC directive on Wild Birds (79/409/EEC) [23]. In fact, the protection applies only if a nightjar habitat is accepted by English Nature as a Special Protection Area (SPA).

A report by RSPB in July 1995, based on information supplied by the Berkshire Bird Recorder, Peter Standley, suggested there were 4-5 pairs of nightjar at Snelsmore [24], though this figure has subsequently been reduced following a more detailed examination by English Nature [25]. RSPB, BBONT, and the Hampshire and Surrey Wildlife Trusts recommended Snelsmore Common SSSI for inclusion in a proposed Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (pSPA) in January 1995, and RSPB has since stated: "There appears to be no grounds for the exclusion of Snelsmore Common SSSI from the proposed SPA." [21]

However, David Henshilwood stated: "It is not English Nature'sintention to recommend that Snelsmore should be included within the Thames Basin Heaths SPA. The number of pairs of nightjar breeding on the site falls below the selection threshold of 1% of the British breeding population for this species." [26] In other words, the statutory nature conservation body was arguing that there were too few of a rare species of bird to protect. But the selection of SPAs is not based on the 1% criterion alone; English Nature must have known this, and should not have attempted to preclude further inquiries by suggesting it.

Frank Lucas of RSPB has stated: "I accept that Snelsmore Common does not support 1% of the British breeding population of nightjars. Neither does any other site in the pSPA. Indeed half of the proposed sites which make up the pSPA support fewer nightjars than Snelsmore. I do not accept that Snelsmore is too far from the currently proposed SPA to be considered as asatellite. The heathland at Snelsmore is ecologically part of the London Basin heathlands and I believe that the nightjars at Snelsmore can be considered to be part of the London Basin population." [27] RSPB subsequently submitted a detailed case for Snelsmore's inclusion in the pSPA [24], and stated there is "no ornithological justification for excluding the West Berkshire sites from the pSPA" [28].

The most important point here is that recognized problems in managing the Common (dog walking and inappropriate recreational use) have led to a depletion in the number of rare species. As RSPB points out, better management of the Common could once again increase the number of nightjars. While RSPB is determined to arrest -- and reverse -- the decline, English Nature's position remains that there are too few nightjar to protect.

Vertigo moulinsiana:

As we have already considered (under "Special Areas of Conservation", above), there can be little more absurd or spectacular demonstration of English Nature's poor assessment of the area than the remarkable discovery near the Kennet river of the rare ice-age mollusc Vertigo moulinsiana (Desmoulin's whorl snail). This is an endangered (Red Data Book RDB3) species listed under annex IIa of the Habitats Directive, whose conservation status requires the designation of SACs. Dr Norman Moore, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the NCC, has confirmed the importance of the snail: "Last December [1995], the Government's biodiversity steering group placed Vertigo moulinsiana on a list of 116 endangered species that should receive priority conservation status" [90].

In May 1995, David Henshilwood stated: "The route has been assessed [for SAC eligibility]" [26] In October 1995, another employee of Thames & Chilterns English Nature, Simon Melville, wrote (in his capacity as a Basingstoke & Dean Borough Councillor): "Certainly, in terms of the EC Habitats Directive, the proposed road will not destroy any protected habitats..." [31]. Now the Kennet river became a SSSI in November 1995, and was presumably surveyed very thoroughly at that time; as David Henshilwood states: "English Nature has surveyed those parts of the bypass route which cross the Kennet Valley; all access constraints were removed through the help and courtesy of the various landowners." [38] As late as 15th December 199 -- less than one month before trees began to fall on the bypass route -- the local wildlife trust, BBONT, stated: "We have no record of this species along the A34 route corridor: if it is not listed in the SSSI schedules for the Kennet, Lambourn or Snelsmore SSSIs. If it is known to occur there, its omission from the schedules is of grave concern to BBONT." [39] Within a matter of weeks, thanks to Friends of the Earth, the discovery of the snail was being reported in almost every national newspaper [71]. We believe English Nature had known about the snail since mid 1994, or mid 1995 at the latest [26], so why was it missing from the SSSI schedules? If, as seems highly unlikely, English Nature had missed the snail by mistake, what else had they missed? If they were aware of Vertigo moulinsiana at Rack Marsh, why did they not survey nearby areas, and those adjoining the river Kennet, at that time?

It's important to note that, as an annex II species, Vertigo moulinsiana is a species whose habitat must be protected for survival; unlike the annex IV dormice, it cannot simply be transplanted elsewhere. Despite this, and despite the advice of the Highways Agency's own surveyor [81], the mitigation measures eventually proposed by English Nature and the Department of the Environment involved the wholesale removal of one of the snail sites to a new location, within polluting distance of the proposed road.

Nesting birds and other wildlife:

When preliminary clearance work began in January 1996, the imminent onset of the bird nesting season caused some consternation for the Highways Agency. English Nature advised the Highways Agency and Mott Macdonald that clearance work "must be completed by the 31st March", a single date which it had chosen to represent the start of the nesting season, and "that work carried out after the end of March may contravene Section 1 of Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act." [53]

English Nature's choice of 31st March raised some eyebrows -- clearly the date is species dependent, and indeed dependent on factors like climate too. Ultimately, the Highways Agency was informed: "English Nature has not recommended that it is acceptable for work to be carried out in the nesting season, unless it can be demonstrated that no nesting birds are present" [53].

Clearance work continued into summer 1996; clearance of the area between the Kennet river and the Kennet canal continues at the time of writing (September 1996). Attempts to interest David Henshilwood in possible breaches of the Wildlife and Countryside Act produced the following response: "I appreciate your concern that animals and birds may be injured or killed during these operations. Unfortunately this is the inevitable result of any large-scale development or construction proposal of this sort." [75]

On 27th September 1996, the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (RSNC) and the Wildlife Trusts reported encouraging evidence of the return of otters to the Lambourn river at Rack Marsh, very near to the bypass route [84]. Rack Marsh will be crossed by a 13 metre embankment at Bagnor, fragmenting the riverine habitat there. Otters are amongst the mammals thought to be most vulnerable to habitat fragmentation [87].


As we have already seen, English Nature's Position Statement on the Newbury Bypass presents something of a selective picture of the road and its environmental effects. The Statement has been revised several times, but the most recent version we have seen (Version 3, dated 4th March 1996), still seems deficient in many respects:

* It fails to mention the national objective "to oppose vigorously road proposals that adversely and irreversibly affect SSSIs", and that the bypass would affect three actual and one proposed SSSI.

* It fails to explain why the NCC presented a more detailed case against the eastern route than against the western. It implies the NCC presented a full and balanced case for both routes. In fact, by making secret deals before the Inquiry to protect the eastern route, English Nature pre-empted the Inspector's decision.

* It gives no clues as to what the environmental effects of the western route might actually be, despite the mass of information on the subject, and despite relevant assessments having been conducted for the eastern route.

* It does not mention the lack of a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

* It implies only "a small part of the Snelsmore Common SSSI" would be affected, ignoring the possibility of considerable indirect effects. * It does not mention the 11 habitats/species on the route of the road covered by annexes I, II, and IV of the Habitats Directive.

* Although it mentions the NCC's objection to an embankment over the Kennet valley, it does not explain what the effects of the embankment are expected to be.

* It does not mention the fact that the NCC's surveys were restricted to public footpaths on all but one visit to the Kennet valley, prior to the preparation of the public inquiry case.

* It does not mention the effects of the road on the Kennet valley: the direct loss of floodplain habitat, the fragmentation of habitats by the embankment, the effect of narrow bridges on wildlife and plant movements, the effect of upstream flooding on the Kennet floodplain proposed SSSI, the downstream effect of a change in fluvial geomorphology, the effects of run-off during construction and operation, and the significant effects of changes in microclimate, shading, and so on.

* It states that the riverine SSSIs were designated "in the full knowledge that the Newbury Bypass is likely to be constructed across the SSSI", but fails to point out that the designation process took no account of the damage this would involve. (This statement was removed in Version 3 of the Position Statement.)

* It fails to mention the Snelsmore Common nightjar colony at all, despite RSPB's belief "that Snelsmore Common SSSI should be included in the Thames Basin Heathlands pSPA in recognition of its importance for nightjars."

* It does not mention bats once. Vertigo moulinsiana is mentioned in Version 3 of the Statement, but not in earlier versions.

Taken together, these seem to be a striking set of omissions. Version 3 of the Statement (published after work on the road had irrevocably started) contains more clues about the probable environmental impacts than earlier versions. Why was this information not made available to the public and to the Secretaries of State much sooner, when it might have affected the decision to proceed with the road?


Mr Simon Melville is the specialist publicity officer for English Nature Thames and Chilterns Team, and according to David Henshilwood, they "shared the provision of information" about the Newbury Bypass from the period when the team was created until some time early in 1995, when an internal decision was taken for David Henshilwood to assume sole responsibility [38].

Mr Melville has never made any secret of his support for the Newbury bypass: "The sooner it is completed, the better." [78] He is a very active supporter of the road, a member of the largely pro-bypass Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council, and a resident of Burghclere, through which the existing A34 bypass runs. On 10th October 1995, Friends of the Earth and MTRU launched their alternative to the Newbury bypass. RSPB summed up the mood of environmental organizations at the time: "Construction work on the western bypass should not begin until these alternatives have been properly considered." [14] Mr Melville did not agree. Arriving at the meeting hall on 10th October, he gave a television interview apparently rubbishing the MTRU report and FoE's suggestions; the interview was recorded before the meeting -- before FoE's speakers had even outlined the proposals on which Mr Melville had chosen to comment.

A week or two before, Mr Melville had formed part of a pro-bypass delegation to Brussels to persuade Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard to drop infringement proceedings against the UK Government over the failure to carry out an EIA. Mr Melville attended as a member of Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council, not as an employee of English Nature. Nevertheless, he did speak on environmental issues at the meeting: "I was able to point out to the commissioner the environmental damage of the present route..."[31] Presumably he did not point out the damage the western route would cause, given his statements in a letter to the Newbury Weekly News in October 1995: "... the situation of the proposed road vis ... vis the wildlife legislation is actually very straightforward -- there is no case to answer. Certainly, in terms of the EC Habitats Directive, the proposed route will not destroy any protected habitats and certainly none of the sites proposed for designation as 'Special Protection Areas' (sic) under the directive... This [public inquiry] consultation included information about the environmental impacts of the various proposals." [31] Curiously, Mr Melville's letter made no reference to any damage to the SSSIs on the route; rather it "pointed out the potential damage that any 'central' route would do to this area [Burghclere] -- particularly to the heathland of Newtown Common (a designated Site of Interest for Nature Conservation)".

Mr Melville is a paid employee of English Nature, which presumably means that, when he has worked on matters relating to the Newbury bypass, he has opposed "vigorously road proposals that adversely and irreversibly affect SSSIs", in line with the organization's policy [16]. In his own time, he is a Basingstoke and Dean Borough Councillor campaigning for what RSPB has described as "one of the most environmentally damaging road proposals in the country at the present time" [14]. Questioned about this by two members of the public after the 10th October FoE meeting, Mr Melville insisted there was no conflict of interest. That may be the case now David Henshilwood has sole responsibility for providing information on the bypass, but what of the period when Mr Melville acted as an English Nature spokesman on the road?

Mr Melville provoked further controversy on 19th January 1996, writing a letter to The Times headlined "Support for the Newbury bypass" [78]. He criticized "Simon Lyster et al (the heads of the Wildlife Trusts, Greenpeace UK, Council for British Archaeology, Worldwide Fund for Nature - UK, Friends of the Earth and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds" for not taking part in public consultation procedures: "Not one of these organizations appeared at the public inquiry in 1988. If they had a point to make they should have taken part in the democratic public consultation process."

It is quite wrong to suggest NGOs did not participate in the consultation. The late Mrs Dorothy Morley of CPRE and SPEWBY ran a long campaign of opposition to the road, culminating in the 1988 public inquiry. CPRE and BBONT, the local wildlife trust, did make submissions to the public inquiry, as the DoT itself has confirmed [12]. And Friends of the Earth made submissions to the European Commission about Newbury in the late 1980s as part of a wider complaint about the EIA directive.

But as we have seen, the NCC's selective presentations to the public inquiry downplayed considerably the environment impact of the western bypass. Why should the NGOs have had any reason to fear a road to the west at that time? If the NCC had been more honest at the public inquiry, maybe opposition from the NGOs would have been more forthcoming at that time.

We believe that, as someone who had appeared on television making statements about the bypass for English Nature, Mr Melville should not subsequently have made pro-bypass media statements on his own behalf, or on behalf of Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council.


English Nature's reluctance to rock the boat over the Newbury Bypass has been used by supporters of the road to suggest that the road has little environmental impact. Although English Nature has openly criticized protestors on occasions [77], it has never spoken out to correct ill-informed statements like:

* "English Nature, which maintained its opposition to Twyford Down to the bitter end, has always accepted that the design and route of the Newbury bypass are the best possible" (Leaflet by Newbury Liberal Democrats)[76]. This is a total misrepresentation, and completely ignores the NCC's objections to the construction of an embankment across the Kennet valley at the public inquiry. But it is perhaps hardly surprising, given English Nature's failure to make known the probable environmental impacts of the road.

* "More trees will be planted than cut down" (David Rendel, M.P): English Nature might have pointed out that, while trees can be replanted, the ecosystem of an ancient woodland is irreplaceable; the mature oak, Quercus robur, may support over 2000 species of insect, bird, and mammal on its roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. [88]

* "Snelsmore Common is just scrub" (Newbury District Council): English Nature might have pointed out that the Common is, in fact, a SSSI, with "one of the last and best surviving examples of heath left in the region" [15].

* "This bypass does, inevitably, have to pass through open countryside..." (Keith Reed, Berkshire Environment Officer, [57]). Like RSPB and other NGOs, English Natuure might have spoken out to ensure that alternatives were properly evaluated.

* "The proposed road will not destroy any protected habitats" (Simon Melville, [31]). In fact, the road will destroy part of Snelsmore Common SSSI; damage the Lambourn and Kennet riverine SSSIs, resulting in a direct loss of floodplain habitat; destroy the Bagnor Island snail habitat and candidate SAC; and change the ecology of the Kennet floodplain proposed SSSI.

As the statutory body concerned, English Nature's statements on the bypass figured prominently when Mr Justice Jowitt refused an application by Helen Anscomb for judicial review of the Secretary of State for Transport in 1994 [54].

English Nature has been used repeatedly as an apologist for the road: "English Nature has confirmed that all the action which has been taken in relation to protected species... [is] in accordance with the Habitats Regulations." [55], "English Nature were consulted on measures to mitigate the effects..." [12], "English Nature's plans and future funding will appreciably enhance the [Snelsmore] Common's valuable heathland characteristics" [56].

Is English Nature a willing partner to such disingenuous statements? Roads Minister, Mr John Watts: "We will continue to work closely with interested parties including English Nature to minimize the effects on these sensitive sites." [11] English Nature: "We shall continue to do our utmost in cooperation with the Highways Agency to minimize the inevitable effects on wildlife..." [51]

Thames and Chilterns Team English Nature defines its remit to "present the nature conservation case at Public Inquiry and then abide by the decision made". But as we have considered, the NCC knowingly failed to present a full and accurate case against the western route to protect Thatcham Reedbeds SSSI. Some people argued the NCC was placed in an impossible position. But it could have protected both eastern and western routes and supported on-line improvements, like those recommended by Friends of the Earth, by speaking out tactically during the Mawhinney review. This would have given Dr Mawhinney the support he needed to defend his decision in the cabinet.

Ultimately, the public have certain expectations of what their "watchdog" should do. Most people would expect English Nature, if not to have opposed the bypass, at least to have fully evaluated its environmental effects and made that information publicly available so that everyone could reach a balanced view. As we have already seen, English Nature's own Position Statement on Roads and Nature Conservation [16] sets out a policy of vigorous opposition to road proposals that adversely affect SSSIs. The "Vision Statement" in its Citizen's Charter says: "English Nature will give the lead in sustaining and enriching England's natural heritage for all to enjoy now and in the future." [34] English Nature's involvement in the Newbury Bypass is a catalogue of repeated failure to present a balanced view of the environmental impacts of the road. It profoundly affected the Public Inquiry Inspector's decision, and its subsequent endorsement by the Secretary of State for Transport.

To sum up, we believe English Nature's failures have played an important part in ensuring the construction of "one of the most environmentally damaging road proposals in the country at the present time".


We believe English Nature's involvement in the Newbury saga raises questions that are "significant and troubling":

1. Why did the NCC submit a much more detailed public inquiry case against the western route than against the eastern route?

2. What was the nature of the public inquiry deal between the NCC and the Departments of Transport/Environment?

3. Why were environmental impacts that were studied in great detail for the eastern route not similarly studied for the western route?

4. Why was no information about protected species (such as bats, badgers, dormice, or Vertigo moulinsiana) presented to the public inquiry?

5. Why has English Nature never attempted to make known the probable environmental impacts of the western route?

6. Why did English Nature not take advantage of the Mawhinney review to make known the need for an environmental impact assessment, or to highlight the new environmental information that had come to light after the 1988 inquiry?

7, Why did English Nature strenuously resist RSPB's call for the inclusion of Snelsmore Common in the Thames Basin Heaths pSPA?

8. Why did English Nature grant immediate permission for the destruction of part of Snelsmore Common SSSI, while the legality of the scheme was still being questioned in Europe?

9. Why has English Nature given no clear picture of the environmental impact on the newly designated riverine SSSIs?

10. Why were the riverine SSSI boundaries confined to the rivers themselves, when other riverine SSSIs have included an area of floodplain habitat as well?

11. Why did English Nature not perform a proper assessment of the route for SAC eligibility?

12. Why, when English Nature knew about the existence of Vertigo moulinsiana in mid 1994 (or mid 1995 at the latest), did it not put forward areas on the bypass route for consideration as SACs until legal action by FoE forced it to do so?

13. Why did English Nature suggest that Vertigo moulinsiana could be successfully relocated when the evidence from mollusc experts seemed to suggest that was not the case?

14. Why was English Nature unaware of the existence of bats, badgers, dormice, and Vertigo moulinsiana on the route until a very late stage in the road planning process?

15. Why were suspected badger setts being discovered on the bypass route even after clearance work had commenced?

16. Why was clearance work allowed to continue into the bird nesting season?

17. Why did English Nature issue a "Position Statement" about the Newbury bypass that gave scarcely any clues as to the environmental impact of the road? Why was the statement so badly lacking?

18. Why did English Nature allow Mr Simon Melville to speak on its behalf about the road when his personal pro-bypass views were very well known?

19. Why did English Nature not "vigorously oppose" this road proposal in line with its national policy, or at the very least, make known a full and balanced assessment of its environmental impacts?



1. English Nature and the A34 Newbury Bypass: A Position Statement, Thames & Chilterns Team English Nature, 11/5/95.

2. Letter from the Department of Transport to Simon Hughes, M.P, 1994.

3. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 20/6/95, ref IA3.01.051/DAH

4. Letter from Chris Woodford to David Henshilwood, English Nature, 24/6/95.

5. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 14/7/95, ref IA3.01.051

6. Letter from Sheila Galvin, English Nature Head Office, to Simon Festing, Friends of the Earth, 2/9/94.

7. Wildlife and roads report, J.Cox, Wildlife Trusts, 1994.

8. European Commission P/1202/89 (Salmon Farming in Marine Waters, A406 East London River Crossing)

9. Highways Agency Study Team Report, Newbury Bypass, July 1995.10. Council Directive of 27th June 1985 "On the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment" (85/337/EEC) -- "the EIA directive", Official Journal of the European Communities S.7.85, No L 175/40.

11. Letter from John Watts, M.P., Minister for Roads and Railways, to John Denham, M.P., 21/9/95, ref Y/W/PSO/12600/95.

12. Letter from A.Curatolo, European Commission DGXI, to Mrs Jan Stephens, Newbury, 7/3/95/XI/004598 complaint P94/4867.

13. Complaints to the European Commission DGXI, P94/4867 and P94/4875, Newbury Bypass, J.Carter, J.Eisele, J.Stevens, C.Woodford, parts I, IIa, IIb.

14. Position Statement issued by RSPB Central England Office, Newbury Bypass, August 1995.

15. Report by Professor Norman Moore for Friends of the Earth and Third Battle of Newbury, July 1994.

16. Position Statement on Roads and Nature Conservation, English Nature, Peterborough, September 1992.

17. Landscape Advisory Committee of the Department of Transport, report on the Newbury Bypass, 1985.

18. Nature Conservancy Council, Guidelines for the selection of Biological SSSIs, 1989.

19. "Transport and Biodiversity", Bina, Briggs, et al, RSPB 1994.

20. Reijnen, Fopen, Braak, and Thissen (1995): The effects of car traffic on breeding bird populations in woodland. III. Reduction of density in relation to the proximity of main roads. J. Applied Ecology, 32, 187-202.

21. Letter from Frank Lucas, RSPB, to Chris Woodofrd, 20/4/95, ref: FL/PB/nbpeccom/SU46

22. "Fast train brings chill to Champagne", New Scientist, 1/4/95, p9.

23. Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds, OJ C 139 13/6/77, p1.

24. Thames Basin Heaths pSPA: Proposal for the Inclusion of West Berkshire Sites, Frank Lucas, Central Region RSPB, July 1995.

25. Snelsmore Common Nightjar Survey, Nigel Cleere, English Nature Contract Report, 1995.

26. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 25/5/95, ref IA3.01.051/DAH

27. Letter from Frank Lucas, RSPB, to Chris Woodford, 12/6/95, ref: FL/PB/nbp1206/KS/TBH

28. Letter from Frank Lucas, RSPB, to Wyn Jones, English Nature, 4/9/95

29. Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981), Section 28.

30. Friends of the Earth Press Release 3/8/95: "Newbury Bypass: English Nature gives go ahead for destruction of international wildlife site."

31. Letter from Simon Melville (writing on behalf of Basingstoke & Dean Borough Council) to Newbury Weekly News, 12/10/95.

32. Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21st May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, OJ No 1. 206/7 22.7.92

33. The Habitats Directive -- A list of possible Special Areas of Conservation in the UK, List for Consultation, JNCC, 31/3/95.

34. English Nature Citizens Charter, English Nature, Peterborough, 1995.

35. Catchment Plan for the River Kennet, NRA, 1994.

36. Lee Donaldson Associates Report for the NRA: Newbury Bypass; Rivers Kennet & Lambourn, 1992.

37. Bioscan Environmental Consultancy Report for the NRA: Newbury Bypass: Rivers Kennet & Lambourn, 1994.

38. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Simon Festing, Friends of the Earth, 25/5/95, ref: IA3.05.051/DAH

39. Letter from Clive Faulkner, BBONT, to Chris Woodford, 15/12/95: European Conservation Designations and the A34

40. Public Inquiry into the Newbury Bypass, 1988, NCC objection to the construction of an embankment across the Kennet Valley, Proof of Evidence by K. Porter.

41. Statutory Instruments 1988 No.1241: The Highways (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations, 1988.

42. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Simon Festing, Friends of the Earth, 16/5/95, ref IA3.01.051/DAH/PW

43. Letter from Simon Festing, Friends of the Earth, to David Henshilwood, English Nature, 24/5/95.

44. Letter from NRA to Jill Eisele, 10/10/94, ref C81/5(1)L0281/HG/BW

45. Private communication from NRA Water Quality Planning department to Chris Woodford, April 1995.

46. Environmental Impact Assessment of Road Run-off, A34 Newbury Bypass, Chris Woodford, April 1995. Part of document [13].

47. High Court of Justice CH1993 A 5198, 18th April 1994, Bocardo Societe Anonyme and Mohamed Abdel Moneim Al Fayed versus Secretary of State for Transport and Surrey County Council.

48. Talk given by Dr Neil Ward, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry, Surrey University, to CAMBUS, Donnington Grove Country Club, 20/3/96.

49. Public Inquiry into the Newbury Bypass, 1988: Nature Conservancy Council: Objectors Eastern Route EA1A: Counter Objection by the NCC: Proof of Evidence presented by Graham Martin Bathe.

50. "Trees used by rare bats felled for road scheme", The Times, article by Nick Nuttall, 19/10/94.

51. "Newbury - The Future", English Nature in-house magazine, Spring 1996.

52. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 6/1/95, ref DAH/PW.

53. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 19/1/96.

54. Application for judicial review: Helen Anscomb v Secretary of State for Transport, 30.11.94.

55. Secretary of State for Transport v Haughian & Others, J/C Nos 960026, 960060, 960061, Skeleton Argument of the Plaintiff, David Elton & John Litton, 24/1/96.

56. Newbury Bypass Supporters' Assocation: Response to the Central Alternative "Online" Proposals and Other Current Issues, October 1994.

57. Letter from Keith Reed, Berkshire County Environment Officer, to Mrs. W Macleod-Gilford, 1/3/95, ref DM/NS/01202

58. "Accelerating on the road to a fiasco", Oliver Tickell, The Times, 29/7/95.

59. "The Habitats Directive - Selecting UK Sites", J.J. Hopkins, British Wildlife, Vol 6 No 5, June 1995.

60. Written question E-1716/93 by Kenneth Collins, PSE, to the Commission of the European Communities, 29th June 1993, 94/C 219/69 Subject: The Habitats Directive.

61. Letter from Chris Woodford to David Henshilwood, 16/5/95

62. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 17/8/95, ref IA3.01.05 PS/PW.

63. A list of possible Special Areas of Conservation in the UK, List for Consultation, 31st March 1995, JNCC.

64. Letter from Dr John Hopkins, JNCC, to Chris Woodford, 23/10/95.

65. Letter from Dr John Hopkins, JNCC, to Chris Woodford, 14/11/95.

66. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 12/10/95.

67. Letter from Dr John Hopkins, JNCC, to Chris Woodford, 2/10/95.

68. "Newbury bypass could be halted to save badgers", Danny Penman, The Independent, February 1996.

69. A Practical Guide to Dormouse Conservation, Paul Bright, The Mammal Society, London 1989.

70. "Real benefits of the bypass", John Watts, The Independent, 20/2/96.

71. "Slowcoach that could block the bypass", Daily Mail, 15/2/96.

72. "Stone Age site 'sacrificed' to new road", Oliver Tickell, Daily Telegraph, 20/8/95.

73. "Bypass bridge design condemned as illusion of wildlife concern", Sally Weale, The Guardian, 23/2/96.

74. Private Communication from Dr Neil Ward, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry, Surrey University, to Mrs Jo. Carter, CAMBUS, 1996.

75. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to M. Reeve, Newbury Friends of the Earth, 12/7/96.

76. Liberal Democrat leaflet: "The Newbury Bypass: Why We Need One Now", cited in "Bypassing the Truth", Newbury Friends of the Earth, July 1996.

77. Letter from David Henshilwood, English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 18/4/96.

78. "Support for the Newbury Bypass", letter from Simon Melville to The Times, 19/1/96.

79. Reijnen, R. & Foppen, R. (1994): The effects of car traffic on breeding bird populations in woodland. 1. Evidence for reduced habitat quality for willow warblers breeding close to a highway. J. Applied Ecol. 31, 85-94.

80. "English Nature Statement on A34 Newbury Bypass", Press Release, 6/6/96 Issued by English Nature Press office, Peterborough.

81. "Government faces court action over Newbury snail", Press Release issued by Friends of the Earth, BBONT, The Wildlife Trusts, and WWF, 11/6/96.

82. Application for leave to apply for Judicial Review: Regina v. Secretary of State for Transport & Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte BBONT, FoE Ltd, RSNC, WWF-UK, Janet Louise Stephens, Richard Williams Stephens, 11/6/96.

83. CO 1914/96 Regina v Secretary of State for Transport & Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte BBONT, FoE Ltd, RSNC, WWF-UK, Janet Louise Stephens, Richard Williams Stephens, before Mr Justice Sedley, 25/6/96.

84. News item on The Today Programme, Radio 4, 27/9/96.

85. "Newbury protestors ask judge to suspend evictions following discovery of rare snails", press release issued by FoE, 25/3/96

86. "Public says bypass should halt to save snail", press release issued by FoE, 16/2/96.

86. "Ice age snail could feeeze bypass route", press release issued by FoE, 15/2/96.

87. "Rebuilding the English countryside: habitat fragmentation and wildlife corridors as issues in practical conservation", Keith Kirby, English Nature, Peterborough, 1995.

88. "The Pattern of Landscape", Sylvia Crowe and Mary Mitchell, Packard Publishing Ltd, Chichester, 1988.

89. "Rivers of life go on list", English Nature in-house magazine, Jan 1996.

90. "Endangered snails", letter to The Times by Dr Norman Moore et al, 16/2/96.

91. "English Nature confirms nature reserve for rare snail in path of Newbury bypass", press release issued by FoE, 30/5/96.

92. "FoE condemns government decision to build Newbury bypass before effects on rare snail are known", press release issued by FoE, 6/6/96.

93. "High court ruling on Newbury snail demonstrates need for tougher wildlife legislation", press release issued by FoE, 25/6/96.

94. "The Dormouse", leaflet produced by The Mammal Society.

95. "Complaints against the European Commission concering the Newbury Bypass", letter from the European Ombudsman Jacob S"derman to Chris Woodford & others, 29/10/96, ref: 382/24.1.96/CW/UK/KT.

96. "Environmental impact assessment: Bund Naturschutz Groákrotzenburg and the Commission's retreat on the 'Pipe-line' point", Peter Kunzlik, European Law Review, 1/3/96.

97. Letter from Dr Derek Langslow, Chief Executive English Nature, to Chris Woodford, 14/11/96, ref: PO/CE/17.15/7930


This appendix, and a detailed summary of the Public Inquiy material (available on request), were prepared by Mark McCaig. They show clearly the discrepancy in the length and detail of the material presented against the Eastern and Western routes by the NCC.

The numbers in the column on the right show how many words were written on each subject.



Total number of pages: 6

Total number of words: 1729

Not including appendices:

1 Qualifications and experience 187

2 Scope of Evidence 152

3 Description of area of interest 497

3.1 Vegetation & geography (314)

3.2 Invertebrate interest (183)

4 Impact of embankment/carriageway 754

4.1 Importance of maintaining a viable (104)

ecological corridor

5 Conclusions & recommendations 139



Total number of pages: 45 (less contents/appendices)

Total number of words: 9500

Total pages in appendices: 38

Table of contents 2 pages

Section 1: Introduction & scope of evidence 286

1.1 Qualifications & experience 96

1.2 Scope of evidence 190

Section 2: Nature conservation in Britain 1449

2.1 The role of the NCC 69

2.2 The functions of the NCC 64

2.3 The importance of nature conservation 208

2.4 The importance of safeguarding special sites 95

2.4.1 Sites of special scientific interest 315

2.4.2 Statutory nature reserves 124 The purpose of nature reserves 230 The designation of Thatcham Reedbeds LNR 48

2.5 The contribution of structure, local, and other 206

plans to nature conservation

Section 3: The Wildlife of Thatcham Reedbeds 3080

3.1 Thatcham Reedbeds in a national & regional context 114

3.1.1.The Importance of wetlands 172

3.1.2 The ecology of common reed 78

3.1.3 The national distribution of reedbeds 218

3.1.4 Reedbeds of Southern England 141

3.1.5 The description of Thatcham Reedbeds in national survey 252

3.2 The ornithological interest of Thatcham Reedbeds 146

3.2.1 Breeding birds (general background) 53

i) Reed warbler, 1 drawing 205

ii) Sedge warbler, 1 drawing 129

iii) Grasshopper warbler, 1 drawing 75

iv) Cetti's warbler, 1 drawing 242

v) Bearded tit, 1 drawing 273

vi) Water rail, 1 drawing 95

vii) Other breeding species 110

3.2.2 Passage and roosting birds 95

3.2.3 Wintering birds 118

3.2.4 Value of the reedbeds as a ringing station 123

3.3 The entomological interest of Thatcham Reedbeds

3.3.1 Habitats of particular entomological interest at Thatcham 104

3.3.2 National context 85

3.3.3 The range of invertebrates recorded 58

3.3.4 Rarities 194

Section 4: Hydrological considerations 818

1. The dependence of reedbeds on water 297

2 The hydrological regime at Thatcham 39

a) Contributions from rainfall 148

b) Contributions from groundwater 201

c) Contributions from surface water 133

Section 5: Impact of the constrction of an Eastern bypass 3032

on the wildlife of Thatcham Reedbeds

Explanation of approach 90

5.1.1 Direct habitat loss associated with a flyover (+ 1 table) 685

5.1.2 Impact on hydrology 279

5.1.3 Additional impacts on wildlife

1) Habitat isolation 269

2) Disturbance to wildlife 506

3) Pollution to wildlife 365

4) Wildlife mortality following collision with traffic 186

5.1.4 Annoyance to people enjoying the wildlife

i) Use of the nature reserve 207

ii) Impact of the proposed road on public enjoyment 445

Section 6: Final remarks and conclusion 835



i) The road would destroy wetland habitats within the LNR 48

ii) The major impact of the road on bird populations 208

iii) The road would damage an important entomological site 55


i) Construction of the road would disrupt the existing 88

hydrological regime

ii) There would be considerable disturbance to wildlife 27

iii) Animal & plant movements East and West would be inhibited 56

iv) Pollution from the road could exert insidious subtle 26



i) To permit damage to the SSSI and LNR would be contrary to 72

stated policies

ii) Construction of route EA1A would damage one of a network 45

of SSSIs.

iii) The road would severely damage an important wetland 29



19 appendices totalling 38 pages, including maps of Thatcham Reedbeds, Thatcham Moors, reedbed distribution in England and Wales, bird distributions in Berkshire, proposed alignment of route EA1E; tables of reedbed distribution, birds ringed by Newbury Ornithological Club, breeding records....



1 The role of the NCC 186

2 The need for a Newbury Bypass 25

3 Summary of the NCC's views 107

* Published route: No NCC objection to alignment. Objection

to the construction of an embankment across the Kennet

Valley system to be given by Keith Porter.

* Route WA3 - Objection to this amendment, written statement

* Routes EA1, EA2 - Objection to these routes. Thatcham

Reedbeds SSSI. Proof of evidence to be given by Graham


4 Published Western Route 244

5 Modifications to the proposed route 72

6 Central routes 79

7 Eastern routes 86

Total number of pages: 3

Total number of words: 798 (not including appendices)


* 1 map of Snelsmore Common 1 page

* Snelsmore Common SSSI, description of scientific interest 966

* Expected impact if the bypass were rerouted further North 205

into Snelsmore Common than the published alignment

* 1 map of Wash Water field 1 page

* Wash Water field 813

* 1 map of Falkland Farm fields 1 & 2 1 page

* Falkland Farm fields 1 & 2 1144

* 1 map of Thatcham Reedbeds 1 page


I am very grateful to all the people who read the first draft of this document and supplied helpful comments.



Back to Newbury Bypass Factfile