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Badgers moved out for roadworks

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03 September 2009 - BBC News

A conservation group has criticised the decision to permanently close a 100-year-old badger sett in order to repair a road in Oxford. Cumnor Hill is closed so steel piles can be installed to reinforce the carriageway and pavement. Oxfordshire County Council said the work was needed in order to make the road safe. Investigations carried out by the council in 2007 revealed a network of badger tunnels under a section of both the pavement and carriageway on the road between Botley and Cumnor.

Badger setts are protected by law, but Natural England granted the council a licence to exclude the badgers by not allowing them to re-enter their setts or the ground immediately surrounding the works. Repair work had to be delayed until August after the badgers moved back in.

But the Oxfordshire Badger Group said it was unfair to blame the road damage entirely on the badger sett. The group said an increase in road usage due to new homes being built in the area, the geology of Cumnor Hill and the services underneath the road were also partly to blame.

Spokeswoman Julia Hammett said: "It was a pity there was no mitigation. There are outlying setts in Cumnor but those are also under threat of proposed developments of gardens so the poor badgers are very beleaguered at the moment."

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