The River Wensum in North Norfolk is one of the most important freshwater environments in the UK. As such the entire river is designated as a UK Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a European Special Area of Conservation (SAC). According to the JNNC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee) the river is probably the best whole river of its type in nature conservation terms, with a total of over 100 species of plants, a rich invertebrate fauna and a relatively natural corridor. The river supports an abundant and diverse invertebrate fauna including the native freshwater crayfish (a European protected species), Desmoulin's whorl snail, otters, as well as a high number of nationally protected species.
In January 2001 North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) gave initial approval to plans for the development of a 3.7 hectare site located in the river valley as a Lorry Park and associated fuel storage and silo facilities. This site, located in the village of Great Ryburgh, is located within 400 metres of the SAC and, according to NNDC