Croydon’s planners are accused of working together with developers to allow the destruction of an ancient badger sett in Old Coulsdon.
Residents have been collating evidence for two years of deliberate vandalism to the sett, despite the protected species status of the badgers.
There is now a planning application amendment that specifically asks to close this badger sett. The amendment seeks to move the sett, which is reckoned to be nearly 70 feet wide, and relocate the badgers in a 10-foot wide enclosed area barely a car’s length away from some new buildings.
The proposal is opposed by the East Surrey Badger Protection group. They point out that Natural England, a government body, opposes artificial setts such as the one the council’s planners are supporting, because they rarely work.
According to one concerned Coulsdon resident, “With the previous intervention of local people, this sett would have already been destroyed by mechanical diggers while the badgers were still living in it.
“That this proposal has been put forward at all shows a complete lack of understanding of these naturally shy creatures.”
Conservationists point out that even if the badgers are removed to a new artificial sett, they are hard-wired to keep returning to the site of their long-term home, potentially causing even more distress for the animals – which is another reason why badger setts are usually expected to be left undisturbed by any developments.
“We see no evidence of the Wildlife and Countryside Act being followed,” said the Coulsdon resident. “Badgers and their setts are protected.”
Under the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act, it is an offence to damage, destroy or block access to a badger sett, or to disturb badgers in their setts. Those found guilty of an offence under this Act can face a six-month jail sentence and hefty fine.
Locals are calling on Croydon’s planning enforcement department to shut down all work on the site, on Waddington Avenue, until a proper wildlife survey by an independent inspector can be conducted. Conservationists recommend that an area of 30-metres diameter from the sett should be left undisturbed by any building works, and they say that on this site.
The application – to demolish an existing family home and to replace it with four houses and a block of five flats – has been with the council since June 2020. Initially, the developers denied that there was any badgers in the vicinity of the site at all.
Nicola Townsend, the council’s head planner, has been made aware of the concerns over the Waddington Avenue badgers. The Badger Protection group and Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association say that they have not had any response to their emails.
The planning application for 72 Waddington Avenue is here. (Beware: the council’s website appears to have out-of-date security certificates, and so accessing the planning portal might not be as straightforward as it could be, depending on what internet browser you are using). The consultation period on the amended plans expires on October 15.
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