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Is £500,000 spent on 'bridges' batty?

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 16, 2012

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The old joke may ask why the chicken crossed the road – but in the Westcountry, helping bats make the journey safely has been a more pressing and expensive question.

A new study has suggested that state-of-the-art "bat bridges", such as two which were strung up across the new Dobwalls bypass in Cornwall, may be a waste of money.

The bridges, which are actually wire and mesh structures stretched across a road, have been installed at points considered as commuting routes for bats, a protected species.

The theory is that the tiny creatures sense the wire with their super-sensitive sonar, and are encouraged to fly above the traffic and establish new routes.

But academics from the University of Leeds who studied four bat bridges in the North of England found they were widely spurned.

The research raises questions about whether the pair over the A38 in Cornwall – each with a hefty price tag of £250,000 – were worth the outlay, particularly after early studies suggested they were used by between 11 and 17 bats per day.

However, Cheryl Marriott, conservation manager with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said it was too early to dismiss their value to wildlife.

"The work in Cumbria and Northumberland is interesting, but we shouldn't jump to any conclusions about the Dobwalls bypass bat bridges," she said.

"Firstly, the four bat bridges studied as part of the research are a different design to the Dobwalls ones.

"Secondly, and most importantly, some of the bat bridges studied were off-set from the pre-construction bat commuting routes and, unsurprisingly, the bats have stuck with their original flight paths rather than moving along to use the bat bridges.

"The Dobwalls bat bridges were installed in line with known pre-construction bat commuting routes, giving them the best chance of success. We will need to wait until the end of the Dobwalls bat bridge monitoring work to know confidently how successful the bridges have been.

"The results of the five-year monitoring project, along with results from studies like the Leeds University work, will help when designing any future road schemes.

"Nature conservationists, highways engineers and construction companies are all continually learning about how we can work to try to protect and enhance wildlife as part of major developments like the Dobwalls bypass," she said.

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  • bullocks400  |  June 18 2012, 9:49PM

    To Charlespk, spot on with your comments. All this nonsense is little more than a job creation scam for the meddling and dangerous environmental terrorists. Today's conservation expert is often found to be tomorrow's idiot.

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  • Charlespk  |  June 17 2012, 1:34PM

    This madness will not end until we put these 'Green Crusaders' back into their boxes. Wildlife doesn't rule this planet; mankind does. . Most of those setting this crazy agenda are unelected, and operating under cosy charitable status which completely shelters them from the realities of life that the rest of have to live by. . They've never even heard of recession, let alone suffered under it. http://tinyurl.com/7v9gtku (open in a new window)

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  • Lillabeth  |  June 17 2012, 9:49AM

    Wind turbines kill bats but they let them be built - the hypocrisy is sickening.

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  • Droofguy  |  June 16 2012, 4:47PM

    I think councils would do a much better job of preserving the natural wildlife habitat by not issuing so many Planning Consents for Supermarkets and other Out of/Edge of town developments, thus preserving green belt and natural environments for flora and fauna and keeping the Bat Brigade and other Special Interest groups happy as well. If councils want people to rejuvenate their local shops and high streets by using them more, then stop granting consents to international megaliths that are raping our town centres and high streets, (or should I say Fore Streets), and doing little or nothing to support and develop the economies of the third world countries they buy their exotic produce from other than tying the producers into restrictive contracts that provide less than the 'Dollar a day' minimum wage rate considered by the UN & WHO as poverty level..... but I digress, sorry, What a waste of money that would've/should've been directed into Social Service Care or schools, or a plethora of other Local Services all being starved of cash.

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  • josdave  |  June 16 2012, 2:25PM

    I have never heard of bats trying to cross a road by walking across it. Do these people not know they fly and they have inbuilt radar to warn of obstacles so yes it is a waste of money but then that is something our council is good at.

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