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Badger sett leads to 18 months of 'temporary' traffic lights on Swallow Hill between Thurlby and Manthorpe




Burrowing badgers are at the root of a set of mysterious temporary traffic lights which have bemused motorists on a country lane for almost 18 months.

For almost 18 months the traffic signals have silently guarded a 60m stretch of Swallow Hill, between Thurlby and the hamlet of Manthorpe, unaccompanied by workmen.

The mystery of the single-lane closure led to one frustrated road user adding their own sign demanding answers to the lack of activity.

Badgers are a protected species. Photo: Elliot Smith / Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust
Badgers are a protected species. Photo: Elliot Smith / Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust

Yet the answer, it seems, was all black and white.

A badger colony chose the quiet country lane to set up home, but their burrowing made one side of the road unsafe for traffic.

Karen Cassar, assistant director for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "We are arranging with Natural England to move the badgers on safely.

The temporary traffic lights have been in place for almost 18 months on Swallow Hill, near Thurlby. Photo: Bernard Champness
The temporary traffic lights have been in place for almost 18 months on Swallow Hill, near Thurlby. Photo: Bernard Champness

"Once they have been relocated we will repair the damage underneath the road and reopen it.

"Thanks to residents for bearing with us while temporary lights have been in place."

Occasional traffic light failures have exacerbated the frustration of local villagers and regular road users.

"It seems like an eternity," said Thurlby Parish Council clerk Bernard Champness.

Work to repair the road has been delayed until the badgers can be legally moved on. Photo: Bernard Champness
Work to repair the road has been delayed until the badgers can be legally moved on. Photo: Bernard Champness

"It's not a busy road, but when you use it regularly it can be a pain."

Repairs were put on hold at the start of last year while consent was sought to re-home the badgers.

The creatures and their setts are protected by law, and any work which would disturb them needs a licence from Natural England, the Government's adviser for the environment.

Licences can only be granted between July 1 and November 31.

That window was extended by a month because of the pandemic, but ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in December meant it was missed.

Coun Robert Reid, who represents Bourne Austerby ward on South Kesteven District Council, took up the case.

"There has been a lot of disquiet, and quite rightly so," he said.

"There is the cost of the traffic lights and the inconvenience.

"They will have been in place for getting on 18 months, but Lincolnshire Highways have assured me the consent is in place and remedial work should begin by the end of July."

Extra diversionary traffic will be sent down Swallow Hill from Wednesday, June 23 when a nearby section of the A6121 is closed for resurfacing.

"When the closure is in place it will put extra pressure on country roads including this stretch," Coun Reid added.

"But the night-time closure will keep disruption to a minimum."



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