Concern for badgers at construction site

Badger captured on trail camera at night
Badger captured on trail camera at night

Residents in Leighton Buzzard are concerned that the new development at Chamberlain’s Barn Quarry may disturb an active badger sett.

The new Arnold White Estates housing development on Heath Road has permission for up to 950 properties, and phase one is currently under construction.

A woman, who does not wish to be named, believes they may be disturbing an active badger sett with the construction work.

She said: “There is an active sett on the land they plan to bulldoze on for the new drainage system. My friend saw a badger near the site so we decided to investigate and set up a trail camera at night.

“We have seen a badger go in and out of a hole on that site, we know it is active.

“When it snowed we saw paw prints near a hole, they can’t start work there if there is an active badger sett. We want them to listen and stop working on the site.”

Ecology Consultants, Ecology Solutions, for Arnold White Estates sent this statement to the LBO: “Arnold White Estates (AWE) and their contractors Fox are working to deliver the consented development at the former Chamberlains Barn Quarry, Leighton Buzzard.

“Ecology Solutions are retained as consultants to provide advice on all wildlife matters and have a longstanding association with the project.

“AWE and Ecology Solutions have long been aware of a population of badgers within the site, and are operating under licence from Natural England with activities subject to an approved method statement.

“The main objective is to retain badger setts where possible, and this is the case with the most important setts.

“New habitats will be delivered as part of the development, to provide new foraging areas and means of dispersal for badgers.

“It can sometimes be necessary to exclude badgers from their setts for their own welfare, so they are not unduly disturbed by development activity.

“This is a temporary measure and when work is finished they are allowed back to the sett.

“As a last resort, it can be necessary to permanently close the sett.

“This is done according to a strict procedure, and subject to approval from Natural England. Badgers are highly mobile and will readily excavate new setts.

“New setts have recently been identified where excavation is needed for the drainage system. When contractors became aware of them all work ceased and Ecology Solutions was contacted.

“Ecology Solutions has visited the site and undertaken an assessment; no damage to setts has occurred and monitoring will be undertaken to determine activity levels in the area.

“Further consultation will be undertaken with the contractors before an approach is agreed. All this is to be expected and is detailed under the existing Natural England licence. Where necessary, a modification to that licence will be obtained before further work is undertaken.”

A spokesman for Central Bedfordshire Council said: “A council ecologist visited the site today and confirmed that there is an active badger sett on site.

“There is no damage to the sett, and there is evidence of natural foraging by the badgers there. This is a new sett that the developers were not previously aware of.

“As a result, the developers are employing their own ecologists who will be on site to advise them. We will be liaising with this ecologist, who will create a method statement for how the developers will mimimalise the impact on the badgers.”