The first in a series of measures to minimise disturbance of wildlife around the £192m A556 link road has been successful, after Highways England released footage of badgers displaced by the Knutsford to Bowdon project nesting in a man-made sett.
In February, infrared motion-sensor camera footage showed a badger dragging nesting materials into the sett, a network of nine chambers with interconnecting tunnels constructed using plastic tubing and mounds of earth, in a location just off the line of the new road north of Knutsford.
Additional footage last month showed that three cubs had been born in the sett, and the family settled into the nest.
Construction of the £192m new A556 link road, between the M56 and the M6, started in November 2014 and is due for completion in spring next year.
Both clips of the badger and its cubs are available to watch on YouTube.
Paul Hampson, Highways England’s project manager for the A556 work, said: “We were determined to incorporate a large proportion of biodiversity mitigation and enhancements into this scheme, partly to meet legal obligations but mainly to meet our commitment to working as sustainably as possible.
“We’re all committed to minimising disturbance to the local wildlife during construction of the new road and several measures have been put in place to ensure the local environment is protected throughout.
“With the badgers moving in and other measures taking shape it’s already looking encouraging.”
The construction of the sett is part of a range of mitigation and improvement measures for the project designed by Capita, including:
- replacement bat roosts – boxes already being populated by the flying mammals and six bat ‘hop-overs’ being constructed using vegetation and fencing to guide bats safely over the road where it has crossed existing flight lines
- a network of 21 ponds to provide new habitats for the area’s population of great crested newts and aimed at boosting the local population as well as providing watering for small mammals such as water shrews
- three barn owl boxes which will managed by a local conservation group to help expand owl habitats in the area
- mammal tunnels under the new road to provide safe crossings for badgers, hedgehogs, voles and also amphibian species like newts and frogs
- a green bridge across the dual carriageway providing a route for bats, badgers and other animals, with badgers in particular expected to use the bridge to interact with other outlier setts and reach foraging grounds
- landscape planting including new native woodlands and species-rich grassland to enhance existing habitats