Badgers and their setts are protected under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which makes it an offence to kill, injure, interfere or capture a badger, or damage/interfere with an actively used sett unless an appropriate sett closure licence has been obtained from Natural England.
Badgers are a highly mobile species and can expanding their habitation territories throughout the year; being found in both rural and urban habitats. Their setts can vary in habitation category (i.e. main, annex, subsidiary and outlying) and the number of entrance holes present. Usually sheltering one social group, a sett can comprise a complex network of tunnels, dead-ends and chambers that can extend underground in any direction.
Provision of Preliminary Advice for Badger Sett Issues:
A site visit to make a preliminary assessment of a badger sett that may be causing a client cause for concern can be carried out in the first instance. Such sites previously assessed have comprised both residential and commercial properties, and development application sites.
Wren Ecology has experience of liaising with residents who have badger setts in their gardens and are subsequently experiencing issues from damage or potential effects to the integrity of their property.
A badger presence/absence survey undertaken by Wren Ecology will search your site for signs of badger habitation and activity in the form of latrines, day-beds, pathways and other features. Any setts present will be categorised and the apparent level of activity noted.
Although badger surveys can be conducted throughout the year, a survey during the winter months when ground vegetation is minimal and less likely to obscure species activity is always recommended if the development proposal timings allow.
If badgers are confirmed as being present within the site and are likely to be impacted by the proposals, a further survey such as bait-marking may be required to ascertain the spread of individual social groups within the site and its immediate environs. This will inform any mitigation measures required as part of a sett closure licence.
Liza is experienced in undertaking both permanent and temporary sett closures under licence from Natural England.
It is important to plan your development proposal and its timings thoroughly if you are aware that badgers are present within the site. There are a number of issues that should be taken into consideration when planning either a temporary or permanent sett closure:
- Most sett closures have to be undertaken under a licence from Natural England;
- Licences can only be granted for developments that already have planning permission;
- Sett closures can only be undertaken between July and November, which is outside of the breeding ‘closed season’;
- As mitigation for the permanent closure of a sett, an artificial sett may be required to be constructed elsewhere within the development site; and
- Depending on the number of setts present, their categories and the spread of individual social groups within a development site, devising the appropriate mitigation measures to support a licence and its application can take time to prepare.