A RAILWAY bat cave which could be in danger of collapsing will be championed in a new film by three Oxfordshire nature lovers.

The Victorian tunnel in Horspath was converted into a bat hibernaculum by volunteers in 2002 and is now described as one of the most important in the country.

However, it has not been properly inspected in years meaning it is too unsafe for conservationists to go inside.

Now ‘wildman’ Stuart Mabbutt, photographer William Mankelow and videographer Ross Arrowsmith are hoping to raise funds for a survey so the conservation can go on.

The friends will shine the spotlight on bats in the latest episode of their internet wildlife show The People’s Countryside.

But first, they have to raise the funds to make it.

Mr Mabbutt, a wildlife gardener and hospital DJ, said: “Since 1999, volunteers have spent hundreds of hours in the tunnel installing accommodation for thousands of bats to hibernate, but the group have not had access to the tunnel in years.

“To be permitted to continue monitoring the bats and maintaining that special physical environment for their hibernation, it is essential for a structural engineer to survey and give assurance this tunnel is not liable to collapse or cause injury.”

Unfortunately, he added, during ‘times of austerity’, the volunteers have not been able to find the funds.

He concluded: “This is the main appeal in the film: to try to find a qualified individual or structural engineering company to offer their services for free or at a much reduced rate, so the bat hibernaculum can be maintained for generations to come.”

As well as the Horspath tunnel, episode two of The People’s Countryside will explore the length of the old Wycombe Railway from Oxford to Princes Risborough, showing how nature has reclaimed the line.

Ironically, the line provides a green corridor to Shotover Country Park, which is now threatened by the proposed Oxford Cambridge Expressway.

The trio will also produce a photographic archive to help future conservationists.

The People’s Countryside team have launched an online Kickstarter campaign to raise £4,000 towards their costs and have so far raised £630.

Find out more and donate to the project at thepeoplescountryside.com