Work to repair badger damage which threatened Benedict Cumberbatch film shoot
Engineers are hoping to deter a family of burrowing badgers from returning to tunnel underneath a Suffolk road.
In April, badgers were blamed for rupturing the road leading to a coastal hamlet where Benedict Cumberbatch was filming a BBC TV drama.
Heavy vehicles were banned until highway workers built a temporary ‘micro bridge’ over the sink hole – ensuring traffic could still reach Shingle Street, where the Sherlock star was filming a TV dramatisation of Ian McEwan’s novel, The Child in Time.
Vehicles wider than 2.5 metres were still unable to make it across the bridge – but film crew trucks managed to manoeuvre the obstacle for production to continue unimpeded.
This week, the first of two phases of work began to repair damage caused by the badgers building setts under the road.
Engineers installed an underground mesh fence in the verges – a metre-and-a-half below road level – with stop/go boards used to manage traffic.
The second phase will see the removal of the temporary bridge, allowing the highways authority to completely reinstate the road.
Although a date has yet to be confirmed for the second stage, Suffolk County Council said it would contact those affected, and that stop/go boards would again be used during work – expected to last about a week, depending on the current condition of the road.
There was no sign of badgers when engineers returned to the begin work, which received consent from Natural England.
According to Adrian Hinchliffe, Suffolk badger coordinator for Wonders of Wildlife, the animals often build setts close to tree roots and embankments for stability, with roads sometimes providing an ideal ceiling.
With badgers giving birth in January and February, Mr Hinchliffe suspected the sink hole may have collapsed into one of the chambers housing cubs.
Setts can reach 20 metres in length, housing up to five badgers, which can give birth to an average of three cubs.
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “These works will prevent badgers, all of which have left the area, returning to the verges and undermining the road surface again and will also enable us to fill the voids left by badger tunnels.
“Natural England was consulted with and gave us permission to carry out the work.”