Will badger sightings save Kingsley area of Harrogate from latest wave of new housing

Concerned residents in the Kingsley area of Harrogate are stepping up their campaign against ‘over-development’ on their doorstep with claims that the threat to wildlife from new housing is much greater than anyone realised.

By Graham Chalmers
Monday, 11th April 2022, 10:27 am

Having confronted property developers face-to-face at a packed public meeting in Starbeck in February with their fears over a lack of road infrastructure to cope with the expansion, members of Kingsley Ward Action Group are adopting a new tack in their attempt to block the latest housing development in a neighbourhood which has seen hundreds of new houses built since 2018.

After buying a ‘trail cam’ with a motion sensor night vision camera ideal for capturing activity at night, members of Kingsley Ward Action Group now hope what they claim is new evidence will bolster their case against current plans by Redrow for 136 new houses on land north of Kingsley Farm off Kingsley Road.

Residents in the Kingsley area of Harrogate say they have spotted badger setts close to where new homes are due to be built.

KWAG member Gary Tremble said: “We claimed in 2021 there were badgers in the area and were challenged to prove it. We first placed the camera near a major sett in September 2021, less than 200 metres from the site.

“The results of our surveillance of the area shows clear evidence of 11 badger setts in total, which is much more than the ‘official’ surveys claimed.”

Having failed to block the original application at Kingsley Farm after the Government Inspector supported an appeal last year by developers Redrow, Kingsley residents are pinning their hopes on rules protecting badger setts to prevent construction.

But Redrow says it has submitted its own wildlife surveys to Harrogate Borough Council and it is committed to mitigating the impact on wildlife.

Traci Moore, Land and Planning Director for Redrow (Yorkshire), said: “We have undertaken surveys of local wildlife and submitted ecological reports in line with the outline planning permission, including a detailed badger survey in 2021.

“We are committed to protecting wildlife in and around the proposed development.

“We have also submitted proposals to reduce the impact of the development on the native badger population.

“These proposals are subject to ongoing discussion and agreement with Harrogate Borough Council’s ecologist.

“We will ensure all legal and protective requirements are met by working with the council and Natural England once plans are agreed.”

A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said: “We are having on-going conversations with the developer to ensure sufficient provision for badgers is made at the proposed development site.”

What The Badger Trust says on the rules protecting wildlife from housing developments

Kingsley Ward Action Group decided to do their own study of badger activity in an area of Harrogate facing its seventh new housing development in four years after seeking the advice of The Badger Trust.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

“In the event of these setts being damaged or destroyed it would be a criminal offence.

“Licences would need to be secured from Natur England to go ahead but they would require a report on plans for protecting the badgers within the development site.

“It is presently the closed season until the end of June so issuing of licences may not be agreed until July.”

KWAG members have now sent their badger study to Harrogate Borough Council.