Although badgers are relatively common and numerous within the UK, they are subject to strict legal protection under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 for welfare reasons. Badgers and their setts (tunnels and chambers where they live) are protected.
As such we provide survey and mitigation for projects that may impact badger setts to ensure that welfare and legal responsibilities are met. In addition, all mammals are afforded protection under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 from acts with the intent to inflict unnecessary suffering including crushing and asphyxiation. This applies to other burrowing species such as foxes and rabbits on development sites.
Survey and monitoring...
Initial survey work can be undertaken as part of a preliminary ecological appraisal or during a specific walkover survey. This would look to identify evidence of the species such as:
- Suitably sized mammal holes;
- Latrines; and
- Feeding signs such as snuffle holes
If a potential badger sett is identified on site that is likely to be impacted, further monitoring is recommended. This often spans a four- week period and aims to identify:
- Whether a mammal hole is active;
- If active which species is using it; and
- If used by badgers, to determine the type of sett present.
Monitoring is undertaken using a combination of techniques such as the use of remote motion cameras as well as the use of footprint sand traps and sticky hair traps. Survey work covering March-May may record lactating females or emerging cubs confirming breeding.
If a badger sett is present within a potential development site, it is most favourable to retain and adequately buffer the feature within the site design. If this is not possible then a Natural England mitigation licence can be obtained to legally close the sett. If planning consent is required, this is needed with any relevant conditions discharged before a licence application can be submitted. A licence can also be sought for other reasons such as damage to property. Badger setts can be closed outside the breeding season, between July – November.
Badgers use a variety of different setts within their family territory. Occasionally used outlier setts which often have one or two entrances can be sensitively closed under licence. Main breeding setts can require the construction of a new replacement sett, which needs to be used and operational prior to the closure of the original sett.
Consideration to prevent isolation of badgers for welfare purposes must be made; including the provision of access to suitable foraging habitat and water and prevention of regular disturbance. These measures should be considered if plans are considered likely to impact badger territories.