Licences to interfere with badger setts or disturb badgers for development, are issued by the relevant statutory nature conservancy organisations (SNCO); English Nature, Countryside Council for Wales or Scottish Natural Heritage. The role of the SNCO is to ensure, through the licensing process, that developments affecting badgers are carried out according to best practice guidelines so as to avoid cruel ill-treatment of badgers. The legislation
is not intended to prevent properly authorised development.
Licences to prevent serious damage to property (including
land, crops and poultry) are issued by the relevant
Government Agriculture Department (DEFRA in England,
NAWAD in Wales and SERAD in Scotland). Damage licences
can allow the interference with, and/or closure of setts.
In some cases, licences are issued to allow the killing
of badgers, although this is generally a last resort
and only a few such licences have ever been issued.
Licences may be granted by the conservation agencies
for interference with badger setts in the course of
investigating offences. Such licences are normally issued
to Police Wildlife Liaison Officers and to others officially
involved in this work.
Other purposes for which licences may be granted are
science, education and conservation; zoos; tagging and
marking; archaeology; disease prevention; agriculture
and forestry; land drainage; and controlling foxes for
the protection of livestock, game and wildlife.
It is important to be aware that badgers could be disturbed
by work near the sett even if there is not direct interference
or damage to the sett. As a general guide for licensing
purposed, measure the distance from the sett entrance.
The following zones should then be considered, which
indicate the type of activities that would require a
1. using very heavy machinery (generally tracked vehicles)
within 30 m of any entrance to an active sett
2. using light machinery (generally wheeled vehicles),
particularly for any digging operations, within 20 m
of any entrance to an active sett
3. light work such as hand digging, scrub clearance
or tree work within 10 m of an active sett.
Most Arboricultural, Horticultural and Forestry works
are likely to fall within at least one of the categories
above, so it is therefore essential that the location
of sett entrances is considered when tree works are
being planned. With consideration to the high populations
of badgers in residential areas it is clearly necessary
for us to be aware of the implications of the legislation
that protects badgers and their setts.
The Forestry Commission (FC) produced a Practice Guide
in 1995 (Forest Operations and Badger Setts –
FPG 9). This document provides some comprehensive guidance
on tree work operations around badger setts, and is
available as a free pdf download from the FC web site
(www.forestry.gov.uk). English Nature (EN) also provide
guidance and have published a booklet called ‘Badgers
and development’ which has recently been reprinted
and is available free as a pdf download from the EN
web site (www.english-nature.org.uk).
Remember planning and licence applications are separate
legal functions, and planning permission from the Local
Planning Authority is no guarantee that tree work or
development operations will not breach the Protection
of Badgers Act 1992. It is important, therefore, that
developers and planners take adequate account of badgers
at the planning stage in order to ensure that a license
is likely to be issued by the SNCO.
Further advice and information
For advice and information on badger-related issues,
contact Dr Elaine King, NFBG (National Federation of
Badger Groups) Chief Executive: www.nfbg.org.uk
15 Cloisters Business Centre, 8 Battersea Park Road,
London SW8 4BG Tel: 0207 498 3220