Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Fears badgers could stall museum plan
A COLONY of badgers has been found on the site earmarked for a new seafront museum.
Southend Council has revealed the badgers have dug a sett into the cliffs above Western Esplanade, in the middle of the area deemed off limits to the public.
The council wants to sink a 20,000sq ft museum, restaurant and car park complex into the site, which has been closed since a landslip in 2002.
The building is expected to be finished by 2020 at the latest, but the council hopes to shore up the slip area so it can be reopened to the public this summer.
However, the unexpected discovery means it will be forced to move the badgers first and the entire project could be delayed indefinitely if the creatures do not like their new home.
Derek Jarvis, the Tory councillor responsible for the museum scheme, said: “Relocating badgers is a relatively straightforward process.
“I don’t want anyone to be alarmed by this, and for the badgers’ own protection it would be best if people did not disturb them.
“They can be moved without any harm.”
Badger clans, which consist of adults and youngsters, are usually found in woods or grassland areas.
It is not clear when the sett on the cliffs was created, although it is likely to be several years old.
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, it is a criminal offence to destroy a sett and the council must seek a special licence from Natural England to move the badgers.
If it secures planning permission for its museum scheme on Wednesday, it will create a new, artificial sett away from the cliff slip site and try to lure the badgers to it by leaving trails of food.
Once the creatures have occupied the new tunnels, the authority will block the entrances to the old sett.
However, it must allow three weeks to ensure the badgers have settled into their new home.
If they return to the old sett during that time, the whole process must start again.
Sean Crossland, whose company, Southern Ecological Solutions, conducted a survey of the badgers on behalf of the council, said there should be no long-term ill-effects for the badgers as a result of the move.
But he recommended the new home was initially fenced to stop people and dogs disturbing the creatures.
He added: “The careful location of the replacement badger sett away from busy thoroughfares, as well as dense scrub planting, should mitigate the adverse impacts of the museum scheme.”
Comments are closed on this article.