Badgers – Badgers and Development

The Badger has been a protected species for a number of years and now as a result of the “Protection of Badgers Act 1992”, it is an offence to interfere with a badger sett. The protection of Badgers Act 1992 is based primarily on the need to protect badgers from baiting and deliberate harm or injury. It also contains restrictions that apply more widely and it is important for developers to know how this may affect their work.

We make planning authorities and developers aware when an environmental survey is required and try to make sure that badger setts near developments are protected and that the badgers still have access to foraging, water and food sources during and after the development.

All the following are criminal offences:

  • To willfully kill, injure, take, posses or cruelly ill-treat a badger, or to attempt to do so.
  • To intentionally or recklessly interfere with a sett. Sett interference includes disturbing badgers whilst they are occupying a sett, excess noise and bonfires as well as damaging or destroying a sett or obstructing access to it.
Photo: Colin Varndell

Planning authorities are required to take account of protected species and habitat conservation when they consider planning applications. Where protected species are present local authorities should consult Natural England before granting planning permission,and should attach appropriate planning conditions or entering into a planning obligation to secure the protection of the species, and should advise developers that they must conform to statutory species protection.

Before the planning application is determined, the local planning authority should request a detailed ecological survey/report and developers should be prepared to provide information including: the numbers of badgers affected, the impact on the badgers, if a licence will be required etc.

Planning and licencing applications are separate legal functions: planning permission from the Local Planning Authority is no guarantee that development operation will not breach the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

These are examples of activities requiring a licence near a badger sett:

  • Any work within 10m of any sett entrance.
  • Work using light machinery (chain saws, strimmers etc.) within 20m.
  • Work using heavy machinery (eg JCBs) within 30m.

Licences are issued for any required mitigation work to be undertaken (when full planning permission has been granted) normally between 1 July – 30 November only. Development can then proceed. 1 Dec to 30 June is the closed season.

This is to try to prevent damage to setts and avoid disturbance and injury to badgers and cubs at a sensitive time of year.

Anyone knowing of a site where there is a badger sett is present and work to clear or develop the site is about to or has started without a licence having been issued, should urgently contact Natural England, the local planning authorities or the Dorset Mammal Group. In cases where a sett may be illegally destroyed, the police have powers to stop the work.

For more information please see information from Natural England: Badgers & Development. There is also a very useful advice note provided by Dorset County Council here.