UES carried out a preliminary ecological survey at the Evesham Country Park site in Worcestershire in April 2015. The proposed development will affect areas of orchard, scrub, grassland and existing hard-standing on the northern boundary of Evesham Country Park.
The main ecological concern coming from the initial survey was the presence of a potentially active badger sett within the site. There was evidence of badgers across the site including pathways, snuffle holes and hairs. Further badger activity surveys were commissioned to record the type of usage and level of activity on site.
The badger activity surveys was carried out in July and August 2015. Infra-red cameras were set up by each of the three sett entrances for a 29 day period. The aim was to record the activity and estimated number of badgers using the sett. A total of two adults and a single young badger were recorded using the sett sporadically.
As the sett was only used by low numbers of badgers occasionally it was not thought to be a main sett. Main setts usually have a large number of holes, well used paths to and from the sett and between sett entrances, and as the breeding sett are usually in continual use.
Badgers are protected by law under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Under the Act it is illegal to:
• Intentionally capture, kill or injury or take a badger
• Damage, destroy, obstruct access to a sett
• Disturb a badger while occupying a sett
• Treat badgers cruelly
• Deliberately send or intentionally allow dogs into a sett
• Bait or dig out badgers
Due to the presence of an active sett within the proposed development area a licence was obtained from Natural England, which would allow us to safely and legally close the sett. Without sett closure the proposed works could have harmed or killed individual badgers.
Sett closure was undertaken between July and November 2015 in order to avoid the breeding season. One way exclusion gates and mesh were installed at all of the sett entrances, to prevent access back into the sett. Gates were left for 21 days after the installation date and checked by an ecologist every 3rd day. A number of badgers were recorded leaving the sett during this period. Once the sett was deemed free from badgers it was destroyed under the supervision of an ecologist.
Planning consent was secured in February 2016. UES will be discharging a number of the pre-start conditions including producing a reptile and bird compensation strategy, and ensuring the site is still free of badgers prior to construction works starting on site.
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