Road closure of Run Common Road, Cranleigh
Update on 14 October:
We have been granted a license from Natural England to attempt evacuation of the existing badger sett by 30 November. A variety of measures are being put in place - in conjunction with specialists from Surrey Wildlife Trust - to discourage the badgers' return to this sett and to encourage their adoption of a new one located at a safe distance. If we can demonstrate by 30 November that the badgers are no longer returning to the sett, we will be able to move forward and finalise a plan for repairing the road. If we are unable to achieve this by 30 November we will not be allowed to do anything further until 1 July 2021, this is because licenses are not granted by Natural England for works between November and July.
We decided upon a chosen course of action for a permanent repair of the road and submitted an application in August to Natural England to interfere with the badger sett. We decided on a robust solution to protect the structure of the bridge and embankment for years to come. This course of action will allow for us to carry out repairs to the road and allow the badgers to return without further compromising the structure of the repaired road.
Run Common Road was initially closed due to cracks opening in the surface due to subsidence west of the bridge which takes the road over the disused railway.
The road remains closed as during investigation it was identified that the likely cause of the subsidence was a badger sett that had undermined the embankment supporting the road, therefore causing it to collapse.
Badgers are a protected species in law, and we are unable to disturb their habitat without permission from Natural England, and if we do, this can only be done at certain times of the year.
We have used ground penetrating radar to "look" through the road surface at the voids beneath and we can see that the damage to the road extends beyond the centre of the road. As a result, we are unable to open it to traffic in either direction, or with traffic lights.
Heavy rain or the passage of large vehicles could continue to weaken the embankment, causing it to slip further.
Works progress to date:
We are currently progressing on three fronts:
- We are working with our design partners to understand how the embankment failed and design a solution to enable us to put it back.
- We are working with Surrey Wildlife Trust to discover more about the badger sett and their interaction with the local area to see how we can rebuild the road whilst retaining as much of the badger habitat as possible.
- We are discussing with Natural England how best to get the road open whilst protecting the badgers and complying with the law.
We have several potential solutions to reconstruct the road, but our investigation of the badger habitat is ongoing. We will then need agreement from Natural England on our proposal and license from them to interfere with the badger sett before we can appoint a contractor to proceed with the works.
The licences are typically not granted for works between November and July, so we have a narrow window in which to work. If we are unable to reach an agreement with Natural England which allows us to disturb the sett before November of this year, we may have to wait.
It is therefore possible that the road will remain closed for much of this year, and possibly into 2021.