At the same time, it is also still seeking to progress an application to Natural England for the relocation of the setts.
The presence of badgers in the cemetery and their foraging activity has caused local concern, with some localised damage being caused to the surface of graves and other grassed areas within the cemetery.
The council has worked with ecology experts to carry out survey work in support of the council’s proposed application to Natural England for a licence to relocate the badger setts at the cemetery.
At a meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council on Monday, head of neighbourhood services Greg Gavin set out the recommendation of an ecologist who recommended that the county council does not apply for a licence to relocate the badgers.
He said: “They (the ecologist) don’t think that a licence to remove the setts would actually resolve the issues that we are experiencing in terms of damage to graves and the surface. Though the licence would allow us to move and shut down specific setts that are there presently, it would not allow us to close off any future setts and would simply encourage badgers to create alternative setts in the immediate area which provides them with really rich habitat and the issue of damage to graves won’t be resolved.”
Council leader Glen Sanderson said that Natural England would be contacted for guidance before any decision is made and the county council has now announced that the significant distress being caused to families still warrants an application to try and secure the badgers’ relocation.
However, given the uncertain nature of the outcome of the application, it intends to install fencing to prevent badgers accessing the new section of the cemetery in such a way as to not cause any significant problems to the look of the cemetery.
Coun John Riddle, cabinet member for local services, said: “We know this is a very difficult situation and have been doing our very best to deal with the issues the badgers are causing.
“We’ve engaged expert advice to find a solution and are still committed to pursuing the relocation of the setts, whilst also taking on-board independent professional advice that recommends this new fencing be installed to help control the activity of the badgers.
“It’s clear that we cannot guarantee an application for a licence to relocate the setts will have a successful outcome and therefore it makes sense to try and identify other measures, such as use of badger-proof fencing to try and reduce damage from foraging activity within the cemetery.
“We’ll therefore be installing the fence as soon as possible, while also still progressing the application for their relocation.”
Berwick East county councillor Georgina Hill said said at the meeting that she hoped the council would still apply for a licence to relocate the badger setts.
However, she was sceptical about how effective any fencing would be, saying: “I’m no expert on these things, but the badgers are very strong and dig way underground, and unless it’s going to be the world’s deepest fence, I don’t get that.”