The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (UK) makes it illegal to interfere with a badger sett. This includes damaging, destroying, disturbing or obstructing access to the sett. Therefore, a badger survey to assess for the presence of any setts or field signs is often a requirement of development projects.
Badgers are resourceful creatures, which means they can inhabit both rural and urban locations. The majority of badger setts are created on the edge of woodland habitat or within a hedgerow system where a combination of food, safety and sloping ground is available.
A survey to determine the presence or likely absence of badgers should be undertaken at most greenfield and some brownfield sites since badgers are both abundant and widespread throughout the UK.
At Thomson Environmental Consultants, our badger survey and mitigation strategies are guided by best practice, including Natural England and Mammal Society publications, and our experts meet the competencies set out by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
Since they are principally nocturnal animals, surveys concentrate on searching for evidence of badgers rather than seeking to record the animals themselves. Signs of badgers’ presence on a site include setts (categorised as main, annexe, subsidiary or outlier), latrines (dung pits), tracks, hairs caught on fences and vegetation, distinctive pathways through vegetation, scratching posts, feeding signs, snuffle holes in grassland and day nests.
When can badger surveys take place?
Badger surveys can be carried out all year round, though a better understanding of how badgers use an area can be more accurately obtained between Autumn and Spring when vegetation is sparse enough to easily locate setts and other signs..
Works that disturb badgers, damage or destroy setts, can only legally be undertaken with a licence issued by Natural England. Appropriate mitigation and exclusion of badgers is normally required before setts can be closed and destroyed. Natural England will only normally licence such works to be undertaken between July and November, outside of the season when badgers have dependant cubs.
Download our ‘Species Survey and Mitigation Planner’ to discover optimal species survey periods as well as possible constraints.
Where badgers may be affected by a development, our specialists can provide advice on suitable mitigation options and guidance on minimising ecological risk. To allow works to proceed lawfully, we can apply for the necessary development licences on your behalf. Get in touch and find out how we can help