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Police investigate Network Rail bridge facelift where bats were found dead.

August 12, 2013 10:59

Police probe Shropshire railway bridge work as bats die


Police were today investigating Network Rail’s £1.8 million facelift of a Shropshire railway bridge after dead bats were found at the site.

Rod Garrod by the bridge in Shrewsbury
Rod Garrod by the bridge in Shrewsbury

Concerns were raised with Shropshire Council by a member of the public who found three dead bats under Shrewsbury’s main railway bridge.

Contractors for Network Rail have been working for several months on the River Severn Viaduct, with work including grit-blasting, repainting and timber repairs.

Police were called in by the council to establish whether a criminal offence had been committed. In Britain, all bat species and their roosts are protected by domestic and international law.

Chris Ammonds, a spokesman for West Mercia Police, said: “Concerns were expressed to us about harm being done to bats under the railway bridge near The Dana.

“We have liaised with the council and Network Rail in relation to the concerns and have also liaised with the RSPCA.

“A wildlife officer will be visiting the site to work out what is going on and what will happen moving forward.”

Mavis Choong, a spokeswoman for Network Rail, said the organisation was now seeking an expert opinion on what has happened.

“An ecology survey was carried out before the work started and no evidence of bats has been noted. However, we have arranged for an ecologist to attend the site to provide an expert opinion on this matter,” she said.

Rob Garrod, the man who found the dead bats on Wednesday and brought the issue to the attention of Shropshire Council, said he had seen three dead bats on the floor, as well as two floating in water nearby.

Mr Garrod, who lives in Underdale Road close to where the work is taking place, said he had seen no work taking place on site on Thursday and Friday following the discovery.

But he said he had found another dead bat on Friday.

Mr Garrod said he believed there were two or three bat colonies present under the bridge.

He said he had taken the issue up with the council because he was concerned about the discovery.

“I have always been involved in conservation matters. It is everybody’s duty to take care and have a look around,” he said.

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