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Life in the slow WORM lane??


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Misery for commuters as two-month operation to rescue slow worms causes massive traffic delays



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 10:56 AM on 18th November 2009




For motorists stuck in the tailback, the irony is unlikely to raise a smile.

But the reason for their misery on this busy urban dual carriageway is a painstaking operation by council staff in the grass verges. . . to rescue slow worms.

Local traders are equally unamused.


article-1228683-07410C6E000005DC-954_468x682.jpg Snaking traffic: Gridlock on the A338 road into Bournemouth after a lane was closed to allow the safe removal of slow worms and sand lizards

Indeed, there are fears businesses will go under as the road in Bournemouth is reduced to a single lane for nearly seven miles while the rare reptiles are removed.

The resident slow worms and sand lizards are protected under UK and European laws and they need to be found ahead of £ 26million of roadworks that will destroy their habitat.

Retailers have urged the authorities to postpone the work, which is scheduled to take eight weeks, until after Christmas but this has been rejected because the safety of the reptiles is more important.

Business leaders claim shoppers will be put off visiting the town due to the traffic jams.

Tony Brown, chief executive of the Beales department store, said: 'It's daft they are doing this at this time of year. The dual carriageway is choc-a-block for miles but the actual stretch they are using is only about 150 yards.

'They should be doing it in January-which is the slowest economic time of the year.'

Steve Kent, chairman of the Boscombe Traders Association, said shops had seen a 'horrendous' drop in trade due to the work.



article-1228683-07412210000005DC-719_468x322.jpg Protected: Motorists and business owners are questioning whether all the 'misery' is worth it for the sake of a few sand lizards and slow worms


David Diaz, Dorset County Council's project manager for the scheme, said the rescue operation had to be done while the reptiles were hibernating.

He added: 'We are governed by legislation as to how we treat these species of animals. Some of them are protected by European legislation as well.'

The operation has led to drivers on the A338 facing hour-long delays on a daily basis.

Motorist Melanie Adams, 39, said: 'Is it worth all this misery to thousands of drivers for the sake of a few slow worms? I went as fast as a slow worm this morning and was an hour late for work.

'It's typical of this country to put animals before people.' Another driver going by the name 'Irate Commuter' on a local internet forum wrote: 'If I dressed in a lizard costume, would I get a police escort through the roadworks? Officials who make these decisions are plain daft, because it doesn't affect their livelihood and income.'

John Wilkinson, from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation in Bournemouth, said: 'It can obviously be pretty irritating when you get held up. But Dorset has the most important populations of these species in the country.'

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