Badgers burrow through village flood defences
PARISH leaders in Congresbury are pressing environmental experts to take action to stop badgers from burrowing through the village's riverside flood defences.
Parish councillors say the wild creatures have been burrowing into the riverbanks near the Millennium Bridge, leaving gaps in the banks and causing water to seep into the neighbouring nature reserve and community orchard.
The reinforced banks – which have a large steel sheet barrier piled inside them – are part of the village's flood defences.
The problem became more noticeable during the recent heavy rain when levels of the River Yeo in the village were at their highest for a number of years.
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The parish council has now written to the Environment Agency, which is responsible for the flood defences, asking them to investigate the problem and look at ways of stopping the badgers burrowing into the banks.
Parish councillor Ken Hill said: "There are quite a few holes in the riverbank near to the millennium bridge and these have been attributed to badgers burrowing into the banks. Following the high river levels people noticed water seeping through the riverbanks and into the nature reserve, which is part of the Millennium Green.
"Obviously we are concerned that if this is allowed to continue, it could weaken the riverbanks and the flood defences. There are a number of homes along the High Street which could be affected if the water continues to seep through.
"We have had very high water levels recently and the flood defences have been very successful in protecting homes and businesses in the village.
"We want them to stay that way."
Badgers have been living on the river bank for years.
When work on installing the millennium bridge started around 15 years ago the badger sett had to be removed, with the creatures being re-settled in the area when the work was completed.
The village has flooded on a number of occasions during the last century, the worst of which was in 1968 when 125 properties were flooded up to a depth of two metres after defences were overtopped.
Less serious flooding occurred in 2000 when the millennium green was flooded.
However, during 2012, the river reached some of its highest levels ever and was subject to a number of flood alerts and warnings.
Environment Agency spokesman, Paul Gainey, said there had been a problem with badgers burrowing the banks last year but measures had been put in place to stop it.
A piece of interlocking metal sheeting, which goes 18ft deep into the river bank and 60 metres along it, was installed in the autumn to prevent the creatures from getting through.
Mr Gainey said: "We are aware that there was an issue with a badger sett and that the badgers were burrowing through the river bank defences.
"A concrete bank was installed within the defences to stop this but the badgers managed to burrow around it.
"Interlocking metal sheeting was then installed in the riverbank which seems to have stopped the problem.
"At the moment we have no concerns that any badger activity is affecting the flood defences.
"However we will continue to monitor the situation."