Badgers tunnelling under the entrance to Swanage’s football club are causing the road to collapse, leaving Swanage Town Council with a bill costing thousands of pounds extra to ensure the animals aren’t harmed during the repair work.
In order to lawfully rebuild the entrance road, the town council who own the land at Days Park, has employed an ecologist and applied for a Natural England Wildlife Licence. It’s estimated the total bill will be in the region of £30,000.
The access road leads from the North Beach car park up to the football club at Days Park
The badger setts are causing the access road to collapse
At the Swanage Town Council meeting on Monday 11th July 2022, it was agreed that the work could start from Monday 18th July 2022.
The Swanage Town and Herston Football Club is accessed by a narrow road from the North Beach car park.
It crosses a large ditch that has become naturalised with bushes and trees and this is where the badgers have started digging their setts and then continued under the access road.
Since the problem was discovered in January 2022, metal plates have been put across the road as a temporary solution. There is no alternative access to the football club.
Without the road repair the football club would be left ‘landlocked’
“We have no choice!”
Speaking in the meeting, councillor John Bishop, who’s a member of the Swanage Town Council’s sport, leisure and wellbeing committee said:
“There’s nothing we can do – we own the land and if we are not going to leave the football club landlocked, then we have to do it properly. We have no choice!”
The metal plates have proved a temporary solution but won’t solve the problem in the long term
A licensed badger ecologist will oversee the work
According to the report presented to councillors, the work can only take place outside of the badgers’ breeding season from 1st July to 30th November and is classed as a ‘live dig’ as it will take place while the badgers remain in residence. A licensed badger ecologist will oversee the work.
Measures to ensure the badgers are unharmed include removing the tarmac with a cutting disc and carefully lifting out the sections, placing sandbags into the tunnels to prevent any badger coming into contact with the digger bucket and allowing any badgers found beneath the road to safely exit into their main sett.
The view through to the North Beach car park
A tree will be removed as part of the work
A large tree next to the access road, that Swanage Town Council says has been damaged by the movement of heavy machinery, will also be removed as part of the work.
The report says that the ecologist, surveyor and tree surgeon fees are estimated at £3,250 and the road repair, done to the standard required by the ecologist, is budgeted to cost between £25,000 and £30,000. Swanage Town Council approved a budget of up to £33,250 to complete the project.
Badger culls have been approved since 2015 in Dorset
In Dorset, the government agency Natural England has approved badger culls since 2015 in order to control the spread of disease.
While hotly disputed, Natural England supports the belief that badgers contribute to the spread of bovine tuberculosis to cows.
The number of badgers removed in Dorset was 235 during the 2021 badger control operations according to Natural England figures. Of those, 168 were shot and 67 were removed by cage trapping. More are to be culled in 2022.