Challenging conditions no object for badger sett closure

A badger exclusion exercise was undertaken on a section of railway line, approximately ½ mile from the village of Wressle in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

A main badger sett had been discovered on the southern railway embankment, and the tunnels of the sett had begun to undermine the line itself. In order for the embankment to be made structurally safe, the sett needed to be closed under a licence from Natural England.This involved the badgers being passively excluded from the sett.

We attended site in November 2015 under the supervision of railway safety staff, a COSS (Controller of Site Safety) and a lookout. These were required as in order to access the sett we had to walk ½ mile down the railway line from the village.

We began works by clearing vegetation from the immediate area, cutting trees and strimming grass. This enabled us to gain full access to the sett to install the badger-proof mesh and gates. We discovered, upon clearing the vegetation, that there were approximately 40 sett entrances.

Wire mesh, one-way badger gates and posts were brought to site via the neighbouring farmer’s field, and were put in place to exclude the badgers. Once the badgers had left the sett via the one way badger gates, they would not be able to re-enter.

The sett is being monitored by Thomson Ecology for a period of 21 days. If at the end of this period (due to finish in December 2015) there are no signs of badgers, another subcontractor will fill the entrances with a cement grout, to prevent any further sinking or collapsing of the ground under the rails. The embankment and ballast shoulder can then be re-instated to rectify any subsidence.

This was a great project for Thomson Habitats to undertake as it allowed us to do what we do best – work in challenging environments, with difficult logistics and to a tight deadline.

The exclusion works were finished on time, meaning that the sett will be vacant this season, allowing the remedial works to the embankment to take place within the client’s time-frame.

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