The railway line is a single track running along the top of an embankment with steep sides falling into woodland and scrub. A large badger sett was located on the embankment with clear signs of badger activity. Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Therefore an ecological survey was completed to find all evidence of badger activity and understand the behaviour at the site and along the embankment.
The sett was found to be large with multiple entry points under the railway embankment and extensive tunnels under the railway line leaving a high risk of subsidence to the bank and rail track. In all four setts were identified with three being in active use due to the signs of badger activity around each site – badger paths, badger prints, snuffle holes, dung pits and badger hair.
Great Central Railway (Nottingham) provides over 10 miles of heritage railway running though South Nottinghamshire and North-West Leicestershire. Services are pulled by heritage steam and diesel engines, re-creating train travel experience from a past era.
The Great Central Railway has been experiencing severe problems with track alignment and stability on a section of the MCJ3 line north of East Leake, Nottinghamshire. This was thought to be due to badger activity in the embankments.
In order to minimise disruption to the badger setts and to prevent the risk of subsidence to the rail track and resolve the issue track stability issue an artificial sett was built. This was built outside of the breeding season (Dec to June) and 6 months in advance of the proposed exclusion from the current natural setts to allow acclimatisation. The artificial sett as designed to replicate their natural sett construction and was covered with earth and set up to replicate current sett conditions as closely as possible.
Once the badgers had moved into the artificial sett the old set site was cleared of all vegetation approx. 100 m by 25 m. Once the badgers had begun to use the new artificial sett one way gates were placed on the old sett entrances and mesh installed to stop the badgers digging their way back into the old site. Badger activity was monitored for 6 months then the old sett was back filled with 40 tonnes of grout to reinstate the banking and remove the risk subsidence.
The mitigation measures used in this project have been successfully tried and tested for over 20 years but ongoing monitoring of the artificial sett badgers will continue to ensure they have taken to their new residence.
For advice or to book a survey talk to your local NBC team by calling 0333 567 2020.