Link Road work ‘harming badgers in Combe Haven’

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CROWHURST residents claim badgers are being badly affected by construction of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road.

An increasing number of the nocturnal creatures have been spotted wandering around the area during the day time, prompting fears the work has disturbed badger setts.

Residents claim environmental mitigation measures put in place by East Sussex County Council have failed.

Crowhurst resident Alan Collins said: “Over the last three to four weeks, I have become aware of an increasing number of badgers wandering around along roadsides, many more than I would normally see whilst driving around in the Crowhurst area.

“Even more upsetting is the staggering number of dead badgers. I have never seen such numbers of dead badgers over such a short period of time in many years of driving in the area.

“It seems no coincidence to me that this almost daily sighting has occurred since further construction work has taken place for the Link Road.

“It really concerns me that badger setts may have been disturbed by the road building. It seems this has caused lots of badgers to evacuate their setts and led to so many badger deaths on the roads.”

Local wildlife expert Don Wise said: “The council has closed a number of established badger setts and made some new setts, but the tunnels leading into the new setts are too narrow so that the badgers don’t have enough room to turn around and come out. Consequently, the badgers won’t use the new setts.”

Sarah Blackford, of Upper Wilting Farm, said: “The route of the road has been fenced on both sides, preventing the badgers from passing north or south except by going onto the Crowhurst Road. Casualties have been seen on this section of road in recent months as badgers have attempted to find their way back home.

“The new road cutting at Upper Wilting Farm separates Chapel Wood from the pasture on the farm. This particular area was previously home to a number of badger setts.

“Since the construction of the Link Road, I have seen badgers in places where I have never seen them before.”

A council spokesman said: “The mitigation strategy for ecology across the scheme includes detailed consideration of the high population of badgers present in this area.

“This was submitted as part of the scheme’s planning application and was presented and scrutinised at public inquiry.

“The work is being implemented in accordance with Natural England and road design best practice and has been carried out under the close supervision of ecologists who hold regular meetings with Natural England and the county planning authority, who have not any raised concerns.

“The construction of the road does require the closure of certain setts and, as part of Natural England’s licensing process, replacement setts have already been provided and are being used.

“While there are some short-term impacts through habitat loss during the construction period, this was considered at the planning stages and there is a large amount of alternative habitat and foraging in the area. The final mitigation design provides for larger areas of optimal habitat than were previously present to support the resident badger population.”