Concerns about badgers in Tweedmouth cemetery to be discussed with council bosses
A meeting is to be held to discuss the issue of badgers in Tweedmouth cemetery.
Their presence has prompted concerns about the possibility of memorials being damaged or remains being unearthed.
A campaign group which now has more than 1,000 members is calling for the badgers to be humanely relocated.
They have arranged a meeting with Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson and neighbourhood services manager Bob Hodgson to put their views across.
Campaign representative Michael Stewart, speaking at a Berwick Town Council meeting, said: “I can pretty much guarantee there will be badger setts under burials in that cemetery.
"Over the weekend there was a sizeable hole excavated right next to the headstone of a child burial.
“The county council can’t deny it because their men are actively filling the holes being dug. Every day there are fresh digs."
Badgers and their setts are protected under law, making it an offence to intentionally attempt to kill, injure or trap one, or interfere with their habitats.
There are some exceptions to this, such as in the cases of organised badger culls, but they require a special licence.
Cllr Sanderson said: "In the coming days I’m meeting with a group of local residents who have expressed their concerns. We fully understand that this is a difficult situation and are doing our very best to deal with any problems that the badgers cause.
“While we have met senior officers from Natural England at the cemetery to discuss the situation and possible actions that could be considered, we have not submitted any formal licence applications to them as their informal advice is that the current location of the setts and the surface damage being caused would not be sufficient for them to consider the grant of a licence for the badgers' relocation.
"However, Natural England have indicated that if there were any significant escalation of problems they would consider a formal application and we continue to monitor the situation closely and are repairing any surface damage caused as quickly as is possible."
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan is also urging Natural England to step in to remove the badger sett.
She said: “It is hard to put into words how distressing this situation is for grieving families to witness the resting places of their loved ones disturbed by badgers in this way.
“I know how keen Northumberland County Council is to move this badger set, but they need permission from Natural England, which has thus far been denied.
“In my letter to Natural England chief executive Marian Spain, I have asked Natural England to reconsider their initial position and work with Northumberland County Council to relocate this badger sett.”
Berwick Town Council agreed to write to the county council and Natural England urging them to address the problem.
Cllr Lesley Stephenson said: "I think there is a way of solving the problem and not causing upset to anybody. This must have happened in other parts of the country so there must be a way of trapping the badgers in the kindest way possible and relocating them.”
Cllr Georgina Hill, Berwick East, also pointed out: “The next stage of the problem, if there is a licence, will be the animal rights lobby.”