Has the closure of Sweet Briar Road had a positive impact on wildlife?

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Sweet Briar Marshes Norwich

Sweet Briar Marshes, Norwich - Credit: Richard Osbourne

Sweet Briar Road has been closed since February 17 after a water main burst, damaging the embankment below.

The bustling city thoroughfare has laid quiet for the last three months, causing chaos for city folk, traffic, schools and businesses.

But has wildlife in the immediate area - namely Sweet Briar Marshes - benefitted from the lack of traffic?

Stuart McPherson, better known as blogger the Mile Cross Man, said: "The closure has been bittersweet.

Stuart McPherson, who runs the 'Mile Cross Man' blog, has lived in Mile Cross since he was a child.

Stuart McPherson, who runs the 'Mile Cross Man' blog, has lived in Mile Cross since he was a child. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

"The impact of all that traffic on the roads through Mile Cross has been a nightmare, but the peace and quiet that has descended upon the Sweet Briar Marshes and the delicate Wensum Valley has been worth the hassle, almost.

"It's helped me appreciate the rapidly-diminished countryside that borders Mile Cross."

Green councillor Lucy Galvin added: "The marshes aren't publicly accessible, but if you cycle or walk up the Marriotts Way it's incredibly peaceful.

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"You can hear the birdsong and the air is clean and really breathable.

City councillor Lucy Galvin 

City councillor Lucy Galvin - Credit: Contributed

"But this is an unplanned closure and it's having a severe knock-on effect in other areas."

City-based Kevin Murphy set up Norfolk Wildlife Rescue 25 years ago and said that the amount of road traffic accidents involving animals he has been called out to has doubled.

"Any decrease in traffic would have an immediate positive effect on wildlife.

Kevin Murphy, Norfolk Coordinator for British Divers Marine Life Rescue and founder of Norfolk Wildl

Kevin Murphy, Norfolk Coordinator for British Divers Marine Life Rescue and founder of Norfolk Wildlife Rescue. Photo submitted by Kevin Murphy - Credit: submitted

"The negative is that animals nowhere near this closure are suffering due to there being more cars.

"It's highly likely that there will be a surge in animal injuries once Sweet Briar Road reopens. When traffic returns it will take a while for wildlife to realise it's back in use.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust is appealing is to purchase Sweet Briar Marshes and create a nature reserve.

Communications manager Rachael Murray said: "The 90-acre site runs along the River Wensum close to the city centre and was arable farmland until as recently as the late 1990s.

"The site is a mosaic of fen, rough meadow, grazing marsh, old hedgerows and young woodland. 

"It is home to rare and scarce species of plant and animal, including water vole, water shrew, common toad and frog, orchids, reed bunting, willow warbler and snipe."