FEARS have been raised for some of the critically endangered animals at Tropiquaria Zoo when major roadworks begin next month just metres away from their cages.

EDF Energy is funding a roundabout at the junction of the A39 and the B3190, close to Washford, under its plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and work is due to start in late November.

When the roundabout is completed, the carriageway will be just 10 feet away from Tropiquaria’s cages; currently it is 35 feet away.

Tropiquaria is applying for money and planning permission to build new enclosures further away from the main road but if that doesn’t materialise there is a risk some of the zoo’s most threatened animals may have to be rehomed elsewhere for good.

The three groups of animals affected are the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin, endangered gibbons and two elderly lemurs.

Chris Moiser, a director at Tropiquaria, said: “The noise from the road during and after construction is likely to distress the animals currently residing in those cages.”

Tropiquaria has applied for a grant from the Community Impact Mitigation Fund (CIM), given to West Somerset Council by EDF Energy to spend on improvements for communities most affected by the impacts of the Hinkley Point developments.

“We didn’t realise that we were eligible for the fund so we missed the first deadline, which is why the funding is being discussed at a council meeting in mid-November,” explained Mr Moiser.

A planning application for the new cages was submitted this week. Mr Moiser added: “We didn’t find out until June that the plans for this roundabout were definitely going ahead, which was the start of the summer holidays – our busiest season.

“And because of all the regulations regarding the housing of these animals, the plans took a long time to draw up.”

If the zoo does not get planning permission in time, the animals will have to be moved into quarantine at another zoo that has the space and correct facilities for them.

If this happens, there is a chance the zoo would not get the animals back.

Mr Moiser said: “Because these animals are endangered, we wouldn’t want to distress them by moving them to quarantine and back again.

The female cotton- top tamarin is particularly valuable because her parentage can be traced and is a key animal on the studbook.

“If we did have to move them to quarantine, there is a possibility that we wouldn’t be able to get them back which would be a real loss to the collection at the zoo.”

A spokesperson from EDF Energy said: “The community requested that the roundabout is built to make this part of the A39 permanently safer for all.

"We know the zoo have recently applied for funds from the CIM, which is administered by West Somerset Council, to help with the cost of moving enclosures further away from the planned improvements.

"We respect that the decision to move animals is very much for animal welfare experts to make.

“If approved by members of West Somerset Council the funds should be released during November.

“We understand that West Somerset Council have provided the zoo with positive pre-application advice in July after our initial discussion with the zoo and the council do not anticipate any significant issues during the planning application process.

“We will manage the improvements works properly to ensure any inconvenience is minimised.”

A spokesperson for West Somerset Council said: “The cabinet will discuss Tropiquaria’s application for the CIM on November 5.

“But because the amount is more than £25,000, it will be recommended to full council which will be discussed on November 19.”