Peak Forest Freight Train Lengthening Issues
A badger sett was identified during enabling works in December 2012 within the footprint of the embankment extension works. The sett had recently been dug as fresh spoil was recorded outside of the sett entrance. This sett was not recorded during early GRIP stage surveys. Due to the timing in identifying this sett, the risk for programme delay and additional costs was high, as badger setts can only be closed, with appropriate supporting surveys, between June and November.
Through consultation with Natural England (NE), a novel approach was devised in order to prove that not only was the badger sett not in use but that it could be closed without the need for licensing which would present significant programme delays.
SYSTRA (formerly TSP Projects) proposed to survey the sett using two night cameras with heat sensitive triggers positioned to capture movement around the sett. It was agreed through consultation with NE that if no badger activity was observed for 21 days then the sett could be closed. Although a single badger was observed on day 3, no further badger activity was observed in the following 21 days which allowed the sett to be closed using one-way badger gates. These gates were left for a further 21 days before the sett was finally closed, without the need for licensing, as per the agreement with Natural England.
This method of working was highly commended by our client for applying an innovative solution and closing the sett in a timely and cost efficient manner which was fully compliant with current legislation. This method has been proposed by the Network Rail project team as an example of Best Practice to be applied to other Network Rail Infrastructure Projects in the Central Region.