A11 dualling

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Closed: Closed Casework type: Transport Site designations: SAC Site designations: SPA Site designations: SSSI
 The RSPB Wessex Stone-curlew Project. Wiltshire, England. June 2008. Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus, chick hiding in vegetation, on the edge of a "Stone-curlew plot" created on farmland.


The proposed works on the A11 is a real opportunity to deliver improvements to this road & ensure the wildlife of this special area is not harmed.

Breckland, on the boarders of Suffolk and Norfolk, is home to over two thirds of the UK population of stone-curlews, making it an iconic symbol of the area's natural heritage. These birds are special and have been cited in Norfolk literature as breeding in Breckland as far back as 1660.

The population of this summer migrant has increased three-fold to over two hundred pairs in the last 25 years as a result of dedicate action by farmers and landowners supported by our stone-curlew project.

These birds are incredibly vulnerable to disturbance which is why we are working hard to ensure the A11 road improvements are designed with this in mind. We would like to see a relevant mitigation strategy in place which can accommodate the birds which will, undoubtedly, become displaced as a result of the disturbance from the road works.


Why is it worth fighting for?

The Breckland area is of such importance for three key birds; stone-curlew, nightjar and woodlark, that it is designated as a Special Protected Area (SPA).

This is a European designation (derived from the EC Wild Birds Directive) affording these species significant protection and covering a large geographical area of the Brecks.

The European Habitats Directive also affords protection to some of the special habitats in the Brecks, such as European dry heath, and these areas are known as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). The SPA is underpinned by two Sites of Special Scientific Interest such as the Breckland Forest SSSI and the Breckland Farmland SSSI.

Woodlark Lullula arborea back view

Our position

The Highways Agency published their draft orders for the road scheme and the associated Environmental Impact Assessment and draft Statement to Inform Appropriate Assessment at the end of 2008.

The scheme had the potential to have an adverse effect upon the Breckland SPA, meaning it could damage the conservation interest of the Breckland SPA particularly the stone-curlew. We objected in March 2009 on the basis of a lack of information, inadequate assessment of the impacts and insufficient mitigation proposed.

Since the beginning of 2009, we have worked closely with Natural England to highlight our significant concerns to the Highways Agency and their consultants – fighting for an improvement in the assessment of the impacts and the adequacy of the mitigation proposed. 

The RSPB and Natural England are delighted to have now formally withdrawn their objection to the dualling works planned to this vital stretch of the A11 in Breckland. 

What does this mean?

In November 2009, the RSPB and Natural England agreed sufficient mitigation measures with the Highways Agency to ensure the dualling of the A11 has no impact on the nationally important stone curlew population of the Brecks.

In essence, this will mean bringing a sufficient area of land in the Brecks into exactly the right condition for a number of pairs of stone curlews, which will neutralise the predicted impact of the faster, busier and better-illuminated A11. There is good evidence that these special birds are badly affected by disturbance – hence our long-term concern with this proposal.

We have always recognised the significance of this road proposal to the region. Our primary goal has been to ensure that protection of Breckland's natural heritage is a central part of delivering the road. We are delighted with the Agency’s work to ensure the road will not harm wildlife in the Brecks and are confident this is the right deal for nature.

 Nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus. Adult roosting during daylight hours, perched on a log, relying on camouflage and immobility for disguise. The Lodge RSPB reserve, Bedfordshire, England.


  • March 2011
    The Secretaries of State announce their decision to proceed with the dualling of the A11
  • November 2009
    Sufficient mitigation measures are agreed with the Highways Agency to ensure the dualling of the A11 has no impact on the nationally important stone curlew population of the Brecks. This meant the RSPB was able to withdraw its objection
  • November 2009
    Scheduled Public inquiry
  • July 2009
    Urgent discussions with the Highways Agency, Natural England and the Government Office for the East of England
  • March 2009
    We object to proposals to dual the A11


Sufficient mitigation measures were agreed with the Highways Agency. This ensured the dualling of the A11 has no impact on the nationally important stone curlew population of the Brecks, and meant the RSPB was able to withdraw its objection.