Discovery of badger setts halts Harrogate housing development in Kingsley area

The discovery of badger setts has halted a housing development in one of Harrogate's fastest growing areas.

By Jacob Webster
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 9:58 am
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2022, 10:01 am
The badgers were caught on camera by the Kingsley Ward Action Group.
The badgers were caught on camera by the Kingsley Ward Action Group.

Residents living in the Kingsley area began tracking the movements of the protected mammals after they were caught on camera scampering across front gardens and driveways.

Using night vision cameras, the Kingsley Ward Action Group said it found six out of 11 setts in the area were active.

This contradicted the outcome of surveys carried out by Redrow Homes which has outline permission for 133 homes on Kingsley Road.

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Photo: Kingsley Ward Action Group.

The developers found four badger setts and said only one or two were active.

At a Harrogate Borough Council meeting today, councillors deferred a decision on the housing plans after it emerged Redrow had recently been granted land access to carry out more surveys.

The developers will also have to apply to Natural England for a licence to carry construction works near the badgers if the plans are approved.

Speaking at today's meeting, Redrow planning manager Mike Ashworth said he was "confident" that this licence would be granted.

He said: "We have and remain committed to undertaking the relevant surveys and adopting the necessary mitigation measures.

"We are confident that a licence can be obtained from Natural England for the temporary closure of any active sets within 30 metres of any disturbing works."

Redrow has proposed to temporarily close some setts, install fencing around the construction site and also create a badger underpass if the plans are approved.

These measures have been supported by the council's principle ecologist Dan McAndrew who said the developers should have "no problem" getting a licence as most of the setts would "essentially be unaffected".

However, councillors and residents are still concerned that the badgers could be distributed and not return to the area.

John Hansard, member of Kingsley Ward Action Group, said the studies carried out by Redrow so far were "woefully inadequate" and failed to acknowledge the threat to wildlife.

He also took aim at a survey carried out by the site's previous developers Richborough Estates which concluded badgers were "likely to be absent" from the site.

Mr Hansard said: "This development could have gone ahead based on that untruth and many badgers could have been illegally harmed.

"If you know what you are looking for, the signs of badger activity are plentiful, clear and unmissable, so why were they missed or ignored?"

The housing plans first submitted in 2019 were initially rejected by Harrogate Borough Council, but that decision was later overturned at appeal.

A final decision on the detailed proposals will now be made after further badger surveys are carried out.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter