What we offer

Greenlight Environmental Consultancy offers various services with respect to badger surveys, including:

  • Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (“PEA”) – This includes a site visit and a desktop assessment. A PEA is typically required as a first step to address the ecological aspects of a planning application. The PEA would recommend if further badger surveys are necessary, and appropriate mitigation and enhancements for the proposed development.
  • Presence/absence surveys – Badger surveys generally entail surveying a site for evidence of badgers such as setts, tracks, latrines and hairs. This can establish the presence or likely use of a site by the species.
  • Camera trap surveys – This includes using trail cameras to monitor badgers’ setts for evidence of activity.
  • Bait marking surveys – This survey aims to identify which latrines are associated with which badger setts by placing food with plastic pellets of different colours at the entrance of each sett. It allows the surveyors to find out the territorial boundary of different badger groups, if alternative setts are used by a same badger group, and where are the sites to create a new artificial sett. This type of survey can only be undertaken between February and April.
  • Licences application – In order to undertake development works which have no means to avoid interfering with badger setts, a licence will need to be granted by Natural England. The licence covers housing developments, the construction of pipelines and the building of new fences.
  • Badger exclusion and sett closure – This can only be done under a licence granted by Natural England and should be used only as a last resort. This includes installing a badger-proof exclusion fence, or one-way gates on the sett entrances, and destroying the sett once it is certain to be empty.
  • Construction of artificial setts – Usually using a mechanical digger to excavate the sett, chambers are created from concrete, breeze blocks or wood slabs, along with connecting tunnels constructed from concrete, clay or plastic pipes.
  • Overseeing works (including toolbox talks) – This consists of a watching brief during construction works to install and keep works outside a buffer zone, avoid destroying badger setts, and avoid killing or injuring animals.

Background

Badgers live in small social groups of approximately five to 12 individuals within a territory. They live in underground tunnels and chambers which is called a sett. Badgers are mostly active at dusk and dawn, and during the night. They feed mainly on earthworms but they are adaptable and, depending on the food available, they will also eat insects, rodents, grain and fruit.

Badgers do not hibernate, but they are much less active and spend far less time above ground during winter. Each social group usually has one litter of one to five cubs each year, which are born around early February.

Badger populations are threatened by human activities such as development which often results in habitat loss and fragmentation. Furthermore, badgers have been subject to persecution and disturbance linked to recreational activities.

Legislation

Badgers are protected under UK and European Union (“EU”) laws, including:

Under these legislations badgers are protected from:

  • Capturing, killing, injuring and disturbing;
  • Damaging or destroying setts;
  • Obstructing access to setts;
  • Deliberately sending or intentionally allowing a dog into a sett;
  • Marking or attaching a marking device to a badger; and
  • Possessing, advertising for sale, selling or transporting for sale, live or dead (part or derivative).

Badgers are also protected under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, which protects animals against cruelty.

In simple terms: all development proposals which have the potential to impact on local biodiversity, and Local Planning Authorities (“LPA”) require sufficient information to make informed decisions that wildlife can be protected from injury or disturbance during the development. They often require a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (“PEA”), and further badger surveys if this species is likely to be present.

Habitats

Badgers are present in both rural and urban areas. They prefer areas of woodland, arable, copses and pasture. Badgers territory usually contains a large main sett and several less frequently used setts. Setts are often built on sloping ground, and can also be found on the edges of arable fields, or even under buildings. Badgers mark their territory boundary with a scent marked system of paths and latrines.

 

Timing

Badger surveys can be undertaken all year round, although the optimum time is during late autumn/spring when animals are most actively marking their territory with latrines, and where there is less ground vegetation covering field signs. Badger surveys usually include looking for sett entrances, paths, latrines, hairs, scratching posts, footprints and evidence of digging for food.

Badger surveys (timings)

Mitigation and enhancements

When activities are likely to have an impact on badgers, a mitigation strategy tailored to avoid the specific issues on the site should be put in place. Mitigation and enhancement measures for badgers include creating a buffer zone around the setts, maintaining food and water sources and habitat connectivity, excluding badgers from an area of work, creating artificial badger setts, and improving habitats.

 

References

 

English Nature. (2002), Badgers and development. English Nature, Peterborough. Available at: http://www.badgerland.co.uk/help/en_badgers_development.pdf

Pearce, G.E. (2011), Badger Behaviour, Conservation and Rehabilitation. 70 Years of Getting to Know Badgers. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter.

Natural England. (2015), Badgers: surveys and mitigation for development projects