Badger Trust responds to concerns over HS2 badger sett activity
The Badger Trust is aware of concerns around the reported netting of the badger sett near Crackley Woods, Kenilworth, Warks, as part of the HS2 work being undertaken in that area. The footage and wider reports submitted to the Trust have been reviewed, and whilst it is disturbing and distressing to see the habitat of badgers impacted this way, it is an unfortunate reality of projects like HS2 that badgers are moved on from setts in order to make way for development – particularly where setts have been in place for generations.
Jo Bates-Keegan, Chair of the Badger Trust, stated:
‘This is a distressing example of the reality of what badgers face in terms of the development impact on their natural environment – whether it be a huge infrastructure project such as HS2, or one of the many local building projects that take place up and down the country. To the best of our knowledge, at this stage we do not believe any illegal activity has taken place, but are monitoring the situation with the assistance of our local badger group.’
Natural England, the Government’s adviser for the natural environment, is responsible for issuing licences in terms of badger interventions. They will issue licences and deal with any suspected breaches of the terms of those licences, the conditions of which should be based on relevant ecological studies. The Badger Trust cannot see any obvious breaches of law from the evidence to date, but as it is not party to the licence it is unable to state whether a breach of licence conditions has occurred.
Sett exclusions can be carried out until 30th November, as sows are unlikely to be pregnant until mid December and cubs born usually in late winter to early spring. An ecological survey is carried out in advance to determine what setts are present. If this is a main sett, it would be best practice to provide an alternative sett (allowing sufficient time for badgers to explore it) unless there is a suitable alternative sett already identified in the territory, but the exact terms of the licence are up to Natural England. The netting shown in the video circulating is a ‘licensed closure’, designed to prevent badgers from re-entering the sett prior to works. This is to prevent physical harm or death occurring to the animals.
Badger Trust is in contact with the local badger group on this matter, as well as in communication with the local MP, Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, for latest developments. Staff continue to monitor the HS2 situation overall via the network of local groups, which have direct contact with their local HS2 ecological representative. Badger Trust as the national organisation is in contact with HS2 at a national project level.
The public are asked to contact their local badger group if they are concerned by any development works, whether HS2 or more residential and business projects. Details on where Badger Trust local groups are located and how to contact them can be found via the map of Badger Groups in England.
The High Speed Two (HS2) rail line is a huge civil engineering project, which will have a significant impact on wildlife and habitats along its route.
Phase 1 of the HS2 project will run from London to Birmingham. Phase 2A will run from Birmingham to Manchester and Phase 2B will run from Birmingham to Leeds. Phase1 is now under construction with a completion date of 2029-33. Ecological surveys were carried out on the phase 1 route in 2012 through a process of site visits, desk studies and aerial photos, followed by detailed surveys, which have been updated depending on how long the survey data is considered valid.
Badgers and HS2
The HS2 approach to protected species mitigation (including badgers) is guided by the HS2 Act and its Environment Minimum Requirements. All works are subject to section 4.8.1 of the Environment Memorandum document which states: “Where effects on protected species are identified, the appropriate licence will be obtained from Natural England prior to any works being undertaken this includes species protected by the Habitats Regulation 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981”
HS2 Ltd secured a Phase 1 Natural England organisational licence for badgers, newts and bats. All other protected species licences will be applied for on a case by case basis by contractors to Natural England.
Badger Trust, as the national organisation, is working with HS2 on badger and badger habitat protection issues as needs arise. Local badger groups within HS2 areas are also working with their relevant HS2 contact on issues as needed. The Badger Trust believes this is currently the best way to address specific issues and concerns, and to deliver its overall mission to protect badgers.
The Badger Trust, a registered charity, exists to promote and enhance the welfare, conservation and protection of badgers, their setts, and their habitats. It is the leading voice for badgers and represents and supports around 60 local voluntary badger groups and thousands of supporters and followers.
The Badger Trust provides expert advice on all badger issues and works closely with the government, police, and other conservation organisations. It uses lawful means to campaign for the improved protection of badgers and is a member of Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) and Wildlife and Countryside Link.