Badger Surveys

Badger Surveys

Badger surveys are required for a number of reasons. You may have been asked by a local planning authority, architect, or county ecologist. Whether they are currently using the site as a sett, foraging for food, or establishing new relationship, it may be likely that you will require badger surveys by law if you are going to disturb them.

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BADGER SURVEYS AND BADGER MITIGATION EXPERTS.

Our experienced ecology team has years’ experience in designing and implementing badger surveys and enhancement strategies with a 100% success for our clients.

Despite the confusion over the badger cull, Badgers are still a protected species by law under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (as amended), in addition to protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If a habitat, such as a hedgerow, embankments, or woodland shows potential for badgers on a development site, our fully licensed team will be able to advise on the best badger survey solutions.

So, whether you are looking for domestic badger surveys to support a planning application or you’re a development company requiring full ecological consultancy and badger mitigation services, we are here to help.

our guide to badger surveys
   
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DID YOU KNOW?

  • Badgers are the largest carnivore in the UK

  • Badger groups called a clan

  • Badger Babies (cubs) live in the birthing chamber until they are about eight weeks old

  • Badgers typically live around 10 years

  • Badger families are very territorial and will fight for land

BADGER SURVEYS CALENDAR

Habitat Assessments

Badger Surveys

Badger Surveys Key

bat roost assessments

Habitat Assessments

From just £348

Preliminary habitat assessments or scoping badger surveys are the initial phases of any badger survey process. An experienced member of our team will undertake an initial site visit during daylight hours. Like bait marking badger surveys, Habitat assessments can be undertaken all year round.

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bat surveys

Bait Marking Badger Surveys

From just £498

Should evidence or potential for badgers be identified via the preliminary habitat assessment, further badger survey effort may be required, commonly known as bait marking badger surveys also known as activity surveys. Activity badger surveys are undertaken throughout the year.

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bat mitigation

Badger Mitigation & Strategy 

Should evidence show that badgers are identified via bait marking surveys, then a final step of badger mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required. Working with your ecology consultant you will design a strategy that may involve applying to Natural England for a licence.

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Chase Ecology is an independent specialist ecology consultancy for both domestic and commercial clients across a range of sectors throughout the UK. Over the years, we have build up fantastic relationships with local planning authorities for a fast and efficient process, meaning we’re always happy to consult with your local county ecologist or planning officer and statutory agencies for a quick and successful planning application. Our speedy, honest, reliable, and common sense approach means we’ve become of the UK’s leading protected species experts. Our personal approach means we are here to help with any advice with a simple phone call.

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THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BADGER SURVEYS

So, you have put in your planning application or you’re removing native trees or hedgerow. The local planning authority, architect, or your tree surgeon has stated badger surveys are required. You probably have a few questions.

Badgers are protected by law under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (as amended), in addition to protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The regulation means that it is an offense to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct a badger, foraging grounds, or their setts.

To help you understand why you’ve been asked to undertake badger surveys and why they are important, we’ve put together what is probably the most comprehensive guide to badger surveys available online. We hope this guide answers everything there is to know about badger surveys.

THE BADGER SURVEYS PROCESS

The most common question we get asked about badger surveys is what is the process, What do we need to do? and when can those steps be taken? Below we’ve put together a short highlight, which we expand on later in the guide, on the steps that potentially need to be taken during the badger surveys process.

Preliminary habitat assessments involve an initial inspection of a habitat to identify the potential for badgers and other species.

As well as an assessment of the surrounding habitat to support badgers, a phase 1 badger survey may require a data records search. Meaning, records such as known badger populations, previous mitigation sites, and the location of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are obtained. These desk-based assessments are a requirement and are usually purchased from third party biological records centres or county councils.

If a habitat, such as a hedgerow, tree, or woodland shows potential for badgers on a development site, our fully licensed ecologists will use infrared cameras and bait marking techniques to capture and badger activity.

Badger surveys can be undertaken year-round, however, the best times are between February through April and September through November.

Should evidence show that badgers are identified via bait marking and camera badger surveys, then a final step of mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required.

The majority of the time we are able to work under reasonable avoidance measures when it comes to badger surveys. This may mean protection measures are placed upon the development. However, from time to time mitigation may be required.

WHY DO I NEED A BADGER SURVEY?

Well, it’s not uncommon especially if you are demolishing a building, cutting down a hedgerow, or disrupting a habitat that badgers may use as a sett or foraging.

Badgers are protected by law, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, in addition to protection under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (as amended).

If a habitat shows potential for badgers on a development site, our fully licensed ecology consultants will be able to advise on the best badger survey solutions.

At this point, we’d like to give you some good news. Badgers almost never stop your development.

But what is the badger survey and mitigation process? Firstly, the need for badger surveys will generally be identified at the time of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal also know as a Habitat Walkover or Phase 1 Survey.

If the potential for badgers is shown, then the camera trap and bait marking badger surveys may need to be completed. These badger surveys need to show how many badgers are present in the area, how they use the site, and whether they have an active sett on site.

If protected species are detected, then a mitigation plan is designed to show how you’ll avoid, reduce, or manage any negative effects on them. Working with your ecologist you need to decide which methods are right for the project you’re working on.

A mitigation licence from Natural England may be required. However, usually, we are able to work to a Reasonable Avoidance Measure (RAM) to keep the process cost-effective and quick.

WILL I NEED TO CARRY OUT A BADGER SURVEY?

Most likely. Especially if your development is within 500m of a hedge or sett which may be affected. You may also need a badger survey if you are converting land for change of use for example.

If your plans are to carry out development works that could disrupt or harm badgers or their habitats or if your local planning authority has asked for an ecology badger survey then you will need to carry out a protected species survey.

Typically the building of a structure, tree/hedge cutting, house extensions, and change of land use all require badger surveys and potential mitigation.

DECIDING IF YOU NEED BADGER SURVEYS

Badgers, and other protected wildlife can be affected by lots of construction work including:

  • demolition of buildings
  • extensions that affect land usage or are close to trees/hedges
  • wind turbines
  • barn conversions
  • removal of trees or hedgerows
  • removal or change of land use, such as meadow to grazing
  • building or maintenance of roads

You’re more likely to need badger surveys if the land has favourable features such as:

  • a bank or hedge within 500 meters that badger may use to make a sett
  • is close to woodland
  • has hedgerows and trees
  • has potential foraging grounds

You’re likely to need a badger survey for land-use change if it:

  • is in ancient woodland
  • is large with good growth
  • has mossy areas
  • has unmanaged grass
  • has hedgerows or trees
  • is close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Local nature reserve.

I THINK WE NEED BADGER SURVEYS

If your planning or development has any of the above bullet points ticked then, YES! you need badger surveys.

So what actually happens during the badger survey process?

Well, it’s fairly simple. Badgers will almost never stop your development.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A BADGER SURVEY

So, now you’ve established why you need a badger survey, you maybe be wondering what happens during the process.

The badger survey process is simple. It generally starts with a preliminary habitat assessment and if evidence or potential of badgers, we can determine the types of survey that would suit the development best for Phase 2. These may include:

  • Habitat suitability index (HSI) assessments
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Bait marking badger surveys

However, if your site holds a confirmed badger population then the third phase of mitigation and licensing may be required. In most circumstances, we are able to implement Reasonable Avoidance Measures, also knows as RAMS, instead of having to go through the full mitigation process.

If your local planning authority has asked for a badger survey then you will need to contact a licensed ecologist.

Typically, after a phone or email consultation, the ecologist will then require a visit to your site to undertake a Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessment.

PRELIMINARY HABITAT ASSESSMENTS

For most planning permission applications or development projects involving badgers or other protected, it is appropriate to start with a Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessment also known as a Walkover Survey.

Preliminary habitat assessments involve an initial inspection of a habitat to identify the potential for badgers and other species.

As well as an assessment of the building and surrounding habitat to support badgers, a phase 1 badger survey may require a data records search. Meaning, records such as known badger populations, previous mitigation sites, and the location of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are obtained. These desk-based assessments are a requirement and are usually purchased from third party biological records centres or county councils.

If the habitat itself does not show evidence or potential for badgers then this information can sometimes be enough to provide an assessment of whether they are likely to be present on-site and whether they are likely to be impacted upon by the development.

After the data is collected your ecologist will compile a detailed report outlining any further steps, if any, that may be required.

CAMERA TRAP & BAIT MARKING BADGER SURVEYS

Should evidence or potential for badgers be identified then further badger survey effort may be required. This next stage is known as the presence of badger surveys also known as bait marking and/or camera trap surveys.

Usually, the entails the use of the latest infrared motion sensor technology to capture both video and photo evidence of badgers. These cameras are usually situated in several places around the development site for a number of weeks.

In addition, bait making surveys can be undertaken. This is the process whereby dyes are introduced to badger feeding areas. This helps us to determine ‘clan’ dynamics and site use by the badgers. Bait-marking badger surveys use a badgers territorial behaviour, scanning the territory boundaries whereby badgers create latrines to identify whether the group using the site is the same or if there are other setts visiting.

MITIGATION, COMPENSATION, AND STRATEGY FOR BADGERS

Should evidence show that badgers are identified via camera trap and bait marking surveys, then a final step of mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required.

Working with your ecology consultant you will design a mitigation plan. This may involve applying to Natural England for a protected species licence.

However, you will need planning permission to have been granted prior to applying for this licence.

For the licence to be granted, a mitigation strategy will be required that could involve timings of works, installation of mitigation strategies.

The mitigation plan will address the potential impacts on badgers and other protected species and must avoid negative effects on badger populations, such as small alternations to project designs or delayed work which may expose the habitat.

If this is not possible, the use of alternative mitigation measures to reduce the impacts must be implemented.

Mitigation and compensation methods can include:

  1. Changing work methods or timing to avoid disrupting badger setts or foraging activity
  2. Creating new habitats within the same or on neighbouring site
  3. Improving or creating habitats. Such as new foraging areas or artificial setts
  4. Long term management of habitats
  5. Badger population monitoring after the development

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A BADGER MITIGATION LICENCE IS GRANTED?

What happens after the badger mitigation licence is granted?

The ecologist, architect, construction company, and yourself will decide on a date whereby work will be started. The ecology consultant will take one or both of two main steps:

  1. Implement any compensation measures for badgers before works are undertaken.
  2. And/or – Be on-site to undertake ecological clerk of works measures during a soft break of any areas where any species are identified.

Once any badgers are ‘mitigated’ into the new habitat, works can continue as normal.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE FIND BADGERS AFTER WORK HAS STARTED?

Stop all work immediately.

Continuing work is likely to be breaking the law if badgers are found during building works.

Get in touch with your ecologist who will advise you on the next steps.

HOW MUCH DOES A BADGER SURVEY COST?

Well, it’s hard to accurately say as it varies greatly. There are many factors to take into account.

Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessments and badger surveys start from £348. Fees depend on the location of the development, and size or complexity of the site.

As of April 2019, and despite very strong opposition from ecology consultancies including ourselves, Natural England introduced hourly charges for the mitigation licence.