Badgers are arguably the most common protected species on lowland development sites. Guidelines from Scottish Natural Heritage were amended in 2015 in terms of what setts are protected by the Badger Act and only setts that are ‘in use’ are covered by the act. Many setts are obviously in use all of the time, but some setts can be difficult to interpret as field signs may be present even if the sett is disused; badgers have a habit of scent marking derelict setts as well as burrows of other mammals such as rabbit burrows. The field surveyor therefore has to make a judgement based on their experience which is why you need specialist surveyors who understand the disparity between field evidence and use. Occasionally a short period of camera trap survey is necessary to determine if a sett is currently used and this potentially avoids costs of time consuming license applications and exclusions.

If you have an active badger sett on your site, it will need to be considered fully in the design and construction of your project. Badger setts are complex structures of chambers, tunnels and entrances. Tunnels can extend for 20m or so beyond the sett entrances on the surface. A 30m protection zone is standard practice around setts, although operations such as blasting and pile driving may require a greater distance.

Work that could disturb badgers or their setts has to be covered by a licence under the Badger Act, even if this work is temporary. We offer a full advisory service and liaison with statutory bodies to find the best solution. We are experienced in obtaining licenses to disturb badgers and, if necessary, to temporarily or permanently shut setts down.

Badger surveys are best carried out during the winter and spring when the vegetation does not obscure setts, but there is no strict season for badger surveys and they can be undertaken at any time of the year.

Further information

Badger hair caught on barbed wire

Badger hair can get snagged as they squeeze under fences leaving behind tufts of fur.


Badger sett

Badger setts have large spoil heaps often with old bedding in amongst the spoil.