In June, 2016, we were instructed to carry out a badger survey at a school in Richmond, Surrey. The site consisted of school buildings, amenity grass, playing fields, a wildlife pond, and tree/hedge borders. Our client wanted to replace the derelict fencing on their site with some new fencing.
Lauren Fear was appointed as the Arbtech consultant to work on this project. Lauren has been with Arbtech for three years now, and previously worked for us as a sub-contractor for three more years. Lauren specialises in bat surveys, and preliminary ecological appraisals. She holds a class 2 licence for bats, and licences for owls, and great crested newts.
We previously undertook a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) on this site in December, 2015. The local planning authority was already aware of badger holes that were present on the eastern border of the site, and our PEA confirmed this. We were also able to find evidence of badger forging marks elsewhere in the school grounds, but at the time of the PEA it did not appear that all the badger entrances were in regular use.
The Badger Survey
Lauren carried out an updated badger survey in June, 2016. She found evidence of use by badgers in some of the entrance holes along the eastern border of the site. One entrance appeared in regular use at this point, and the other was less frequently used.
Lauren set up camera traps and left them out for 18 days in July, 2016; and found evidence of 2 adults using the sett, mainly accessing the tunnels through one entrance.
The sett was likely to be an auxiliary sett to a main breeding sett, probably located somewhere nearby. No cubs were observed in the camera traps, and a maximum of two adults were seen to use the sett.
After the badger survey was done, a licence application was submitted to Natural England (NE) in August, 2016, and a few months later, NE contacted Lauren to go over the survey findings. NE advised Lauren that the site did not need a licence and provided the following feedback to Lauren:
I have discussed this application with our badger senior adviser, due to the timing of the application we would be unable to licence the exclusion of badgers while the work is carried out around the active sett. The maternity season will end in June 2017. It would be possible to avoid a licence if the contractors were able to hand dig new post holes within 10m of any active sett entrances. Before these holes could be dug the ground would need to be checked to ensure that it is not directly over tunnel. This could be done using a pole that is manually pushed into the ground to check that resistance doesn’t give at the same depth as the proposed post holes, if any tunnels are found then new locations would need to be found.
Lauren reported this back to the client. The contractors on the site agreed to the method proposed by NE. Lauren then supervised the digging of the new fence posts, to ensure the work was done in strict accordance with NE’s advice, enabling our client to replace the fencing on the site without disrupting the badgers.