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Bats dictate timing of major repairs to city's bridge

Drivers in Oxford are being advised to plan their journeys as work begins on one of the main routes into the city today.

Folly Bridge has been partially closed for four weeks for repairs from today. The stone bridge over the River Thames - which carries the Abingdon Road south from the town centre - is down to one lane.

Stonework on the bridge's arch has been damaged as a result of water penetration and frost over the years, meaning repairs are essential. The council says the works have to be done at this time - due to the presence of bats - a protected species - which can only be excluded from the structure at specific times of year.

It's hoped the repairs will be completed by 20th October - in time for the Westgate Centre's re-opening.

Public transport operators are warning of disruption to services:

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Anti-HS2 campaigners raise concerns over bat habitats

Campaigners are concerned HS2 will mean bats could lose their homes Credit: ITV Meridian

The controversial proposed high speed rail link between London and the West Midlands, has run into more opposition. Wildlife campaigners claim a rare species of bat could lose its habitat if the 42 billion pound scheme goes ahead.

ITV Meridian spoke to Matt Jackson from the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust.

Transmitters fitted to bats to learn more about them

Video. Bats are not everyone's favourite animal. All those stories of vampires probably haven't helped! But they are actually among our most remarkable creatures. And in Sussex, experts are fitting bats with tiny radio transmitters to discover more about their nocturnal existence.

Malcolm Shaw spoke to bat expert Daniel Whitby, the head ranger at Slindon Estate Mark Wardle and wildlife and countryside advisor from the National Trust, Crispin Scott.

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Increase in numbers of starving and injured bats

Sussex Wildlife Trust is concerned about the number of bats being discovered in distress. A bat hospital in Hurstpierpoint, which usually receives 40-50 bats during an entire year, has received 35 injured or starving bats in July alone.

As bats start to prepare for hibernation, Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Sussex Bat Group are concerned that without sufficient fat reserves many may not survive the winter.

Amanda Millar explains ‘Bats have been found starving because their hibernation patterns were badly affected by a mild winter – it was so warm they couldn’t hibernate and they used up some of their valuable fat stores. The recent wet summer has also added to their difficulties.