COP26 Norfolk Relay – Some Environmental Notes

The first leg of our 9 day walk introduces several environmental themes.

1) Sea Level Rise - We begin our walk at Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier. We aim to finish at King’s Lynn. According to Coastal Climate Central both towns are likely to be below the annual flood level by2050.

 

Norfolk would lose much of its low lying land; and around the world many low-lying islands will be inundated and the rice growing areas of populous nations like Bangladesh and Indonesia lost to the sea.

2) Wind Power - Looking out to sea from the Britannia Pier at the start of Day 1, part of the solution to climate change can be seen in shape of the Scobie Sands Wind Farm.

 

Looking back to Great Yarmouth from the half-way point to Reedham. In the distance the lazy turning turbine blades of Scobie Sands Wind Farm loom over the minster church.

 

3) Conservation

From ASDA’s car park, our path passes under Breydon Bridge to emerge into a wild, wet, wide, wilderness that is Breydon Water and Marshes. From here to the City of Norwich we will be crossing the Broads National Park – “ … renowned for its biodiversity”; and  “home to more than a quarter of the rarest wildlife in the UK.”  Including the swallowtail butterfly:-

 

Between Great Yarmouth and Norwich the route passes through( or near to)  a number of nature reserves including  R.S.P.B. Berney Marshes and Breydon WaterMid Yare National Nature ReserveRockland Nature Reserve, Wheatfen Nature ReserveChurch Marsh Surlingham.

 

4) Wildlife Corridors

20th century agriculture and development dealt massive blows to biodiversity and the connectivity of habitats. Hundreds of miles of hedgerows were grubbed out, water courses were dug deeper and canalised and wet land drained.  Monoculture and the intensive use of insecticides and herbicides also played their part.  Enlightened farmers are now reversing the trend as we can see when we pass through the woods and fields of the Raveningham Estate on our way to Loddon on Day 2.

 

As global warming continues, and species need to migrate in order to survive wildlife corridors through what have become agricultural deserts are crucially important.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust, R.S. P. B and other conservation agencies are working together to create whole landscape solutions.

Our COP26 Norfolk Relay route, from Great Yarmouth to Kings Lynn follows the river valleys of the Yare to Norwich, the Wensum and Black water to Dereham and the Nar from Litcham. Both the rivers Wensum and Nar are whole river SSSIs which are supported by the Norfolk Rivers’ Trust  

 

 

Controversy on the Way

 

 

Nothing could be calmer, or more picturesque than the footbridge where our route crosses the River Wensum Ringland. This is part of the Wensum Whole River SSSI.  It is also the place where the proposed Western Link Road will be pushed through. The battle lines are drawn better between those who support better connected road systems - Norfolk County Council; and  conservation supported by Stop the Western Link.

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