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Badger tunnels hit flood defences

1 November 2005 - BBC News

Each sett is thought to have housed about 15 badgers River defences in a high-risk flood area of North Yorkshire are being undermined - by burrowing badgers. Engineers have carried out 20,000 of work near Malton to mend two sections of flood embankment riddled with holes.

Before work could start, the protected badgers had to be temporarily moved out and permission sought from Defra.

The Environment Agency said the growing badger population meant damage to embankments was now becoming "more of an issue", but remained under control. spokesman said: "Any damage to flood defences has to be taken seriously because the embankments are there to protect built-up areas where people live. In these two cases the badgers had created a honeycomb of tunnels which were an estimated 20 metres in length. As a result, massive holes appeared which weakened the defences."

Engineer Matt Smith, who worked on the scheme, said: "We have repaired two flood defences in Ryedale so far due to badger setts. Our scheme makes the embankments badger-proof by driving steel piles through the middle which prevents them from tunnelling too close to the water-side of the bank."

Before work could start, the badgers were removed by installing cat-flap style doors at the entrances to their sett, which allowed them out but not back in.

They occupied a neighbouring sett during the work and were then allowed to return to their original home.

"It means that badgers can have their homes while we can ensure that residents' houses are not affected," said Mr Smith.

News of the repair work coincides with the launch of an Environment Agency flood awareness campaign to mark the fifth anniversary of the devastating floods which hit large areas of Yorkshire at the end of October 2000.

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