'Bats saving Saffron Walden' after culvert work delayed

PUBLISHED: 13:51 11 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:12 12 February 2015

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Bats could be saving us, a councillor has claimed after it emerged the nocturnal creatures are hibernating underneath the town centre.

The winged mammals were spotted in the culvert, which carries the River Slade through Saffron Walden, when the Environment Agency (EA) carried out an initial CCTV check to assess flood risk to the town.

Further work to assess and repair the culvert has now been called off until the bats have stopped hibernating, which is dependent on the weather, and likely to be at the end of March at the earliest.

Town Councillor Doug Perry said the setback could have a positive impact on the town.

“In some respects the bats are saving us,” he told the Reporter.

“With the fiasco caused by the Waitrose coaches stopping in town and all the congestion that has happened, it’s good that further work isn’t taking place in town right now.”

The repairs to the culvert, once carried out, may be paid for in part by riparian owners – residents who own properties next to the river.

Liz Taylor, EA flood risk advisor, said: “We will be carrying out a check at the end of March and hope to continue the work on the culvert once we are sure they are no longer hibernating.

“Despite this delay, we would particularly like to speak to those residents directly affected by our work and provide information to other riparian landowners about their roles and responsibilities for maintaining watercourses on or adjacent to their land.”

A drop-in session for residents to learn more about the work and risks of flooding in the town will take place at Saffron Walden town hall next Thursday, February 19, between 2-7pm.

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