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Breeding badgers delay road repairs at Benedict Cumberbatch film set at Shingle Street

PUBLISHED: 16:43 16 May 2017

Highways work cannot start at Shingle Street until the badgers' breeding season is over.  Picture: ALAN BALDRY

Highways work cannot start at Shingle Street until the badgers' breeding season is over. Picture: ALAN BALDRY

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Badgers that threatened to spoil filming for a new drama starring superstar actor Benedict Cumberbatch are now delaying road repairs – because their mating cannot be disturbed.

Crews from BBC TV drama The Child in Time starring Benedict Cumberbatch have been filming in Shingle Street. Picture: BBC/PA WIRECrews from BBC TV drama The Child in Time starring Benedict Cumberbatch have been filming in Shingle Street. Picture: BBC/PA WIRE

The badgers’ sett beneath the only road into and out of Shingle Street is causing the road to collapse.

Highways chiefs have put in a special ramp – which was needed for not only residents and visitors, but also film crews working at the hamlet – to ensure traffic access pending full repairs.

However, Natural England has now said the work cannot start until July 1 when the protected badger breeding season ends.

David Chenery, assistant east area highways manager, said a special licence would be needed to fill in the sett, which has seven access points, and its tunnels.

A family of badgers have been blamed for causing a sink hole after burrowing into the ground off a road leading to Shingle Street. Picture: MEGAN GOODWINA family of badgers have been blamed for causing a sink hole after burrowing into the ground off a road leading to Shingle Street. Picture: MEGAN GOODWIN

He said: “From early July we can then install one-way gates (like cat flaps) on each entrance so that badgers can leave the sett but not return, such that if the sett is still active they’ll relocate somewhere else. Once the gates are in place we need to monitor for activity every three days.

“If after 21 days there are no signs of activity we can then fill in the sett and repair the road.

“Natural England suggested we dig a six feet deep trench beside the road for some 10m alongside the sett to ensure any fresh activity didn’t undermine the road – however, I need to balance this level of engineering against cost and the essential need to maintain access to Shingle Street.”

Adrian Hinchliffe, Suffolk badger coordinator for Wonders of Wildlife, said: “Badgers will often build their sett close to tree roots and embankments for their stable structure, so building underneath a road is ideal for the ceiling of their sett.”

A family of badgers have been blamed for causing a sink hole after burrowing into the ground off a road leading to Shingle Street. Picture: MEGAN GOODWINA family of badgers have been blamed for causing a sink hole after burrowing into the ground off a road leading to Shingle Street. Picture: MEGAN GOODWIN

Benedict Cumberbatch, star of Sherlock and Parade’s End, was at Shingle Street filming for a BBC dramatisation of Ian McEwan’s award-winning novel The Child in Time. Heavy lorries were told not to use the fragile road but the production company SunnyMarch TV said the council have been very supportive and informative about access during the filming.

Mr Chenery said there had been some concern about the steepness of the special road ramp and one driver had had a car exhaust damaged.

Work is to take place to adjust the ramps and lay asphalt to replace the sandbags and in the meantime people were advised to drive slowly over the mini bridge.


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