Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Badgers and Bats Slow Road Repairs; Fears for County Show Traffic Chaos

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Badgers and Bats Slow Road Repairs; Fears for County Show Traffic Chaos

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Tully? 07554 437755 ? paul.tully@ncjmedia.co.uk

HIGHWAYS officers are waiting for special Defra clearance over a badger sett before repairing a major road landslip, it was revealed last night.

Badgers are a protected species and Northumberland County Council says that although the Environment Agency is willing to be flexible, the sett issue is one of several that must be sorted out before any work can commence.

The B6309 between Stocksfield Station and Bywell in west Northumberland has been closed since early January, with Northumberland County Council saying repair work is unlikely to begin until May partly due to wildlife issues.

Local people are angered at the lack of action, and Northumberland County Show organisers, with a new venue this year at Bywell, are worried at a main access road being lost.

The Environment Agency this week told Hexham MP Guy Opperman that it informed the county council as long ago as September it would co-operate in speeding through permission for the work.

North East area manager Ian Hodge insists the Environment Agency has never held up work or advised that repairs be delayed.

But a council spokesman told The Journal last night: "There are other constraints we are facing, such as the location of a badger sett on the site, for which we need a badger licence from Defra. And there are gas mains and sewer mains to deal with."

Newton and Bywell parish council registered its concerns in writing and Mr Opperman took them to the Environment Agency.

In a reply to Mr Opperman, Mr Hodge said: "I reassure you that we are prepared to work quickly with Northumberland County Council to enable their repair works to proceed as soon as possible.

"We advised NCC that while a land drainage consent is likely to be required, due to the urgent nature of the problem we would expedite its approval once it was received by us. …

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