Badgers are a legally protected species, the main relevant piece of legislation for development being the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Badgers are protected on animal welfare grounds rather than for conservation concerns, this means that the legal protection of badgers works in a slightly different way to other protected species.
A badger survey will, in the first instance, consist of a walkover survey looking for badger setts and other field signs (such as latrines and dung pits, tracks, hair, etc). This information should then be used to design around the badgers, by keeping proposed works as far as possible from any active setts.
In cases where development will result in disturbance or damage to a sett, works can only be legally undertaken with a licence from Natural England. The amount of likely disturbance to a badger sett, before works will require a licence is determined on a case by case basis by the ecologist, considering knowledge of badger activity at the site, background human activity and the nature of the proposed activity.
In some circumstances it may become necessary to ‘close’ a sett under licence. This can only be done by providing an alternative sett for badgers to use (either by proving that badgers have another suitable sett in their territory – sometimes requiring bait marking survey or through building an artificial sett). Once it is shown that badgers are using the alternative sett, and planning permission has been granted, an application may be made to obtain a licence to close the original sett.
As badger mitigation and licensing can be a complicated process, it is strongly advised to contact us as early as possible within the development process to obtain detailed site specific advice on the options available. CEC have a good deal of experience in advising clients on a wide range of badger issues, this includes some projects which are not development related – there is a different licensing procedure to go through if disturbing badgers for activities other than development.
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