Network Rail has trialled a new design technique to carry out railway work while keeping badgers in place.
The nocturnal creatures do not like moving house, and that can be a problem when railway upgrade projects threaten to disturb their habitat.
Network Rail’s traditional approach to badgers has been to apply for a licence to move the animals to a new sett.
But this approach is both time consuming and often fails when badgers reject their purpose-built home.
Upgrade works on the London Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria line to lay overhead electricity lines has provided Network Rail with a chance to try a new approach.
The project team used an ecology survey to design foundations for the electricity lines that preserved the badgers’ setts.
“We should always consider wildlife at the design stage and how to avoid disturbing it and avoid risks and delays to the project before construction starts. Providing design engineers with simple technical information from the environmental report has enabled them to design a railway that considered the wildlife already living around it, rather than trying to move the badgers away. This has saved a lot of time and money on the project and meant that the badgers can keep their homes,” said Adriaan Bekker, Network Rail’s environmental manager for Anglia.
Badger Trust CEO Dominic Dyer added: “We would like congratulate Network Rail in using ecological survey information to construct railway foundations that do not threaten badgers or their setts.
“Being able to work at the railway design stage to avoid the need to relocate badgers is a major environmental breakthrough and cost saving, which we would like to see rolled out across the rail network.”