A construction company director has been fined more than £9,000 after he allowed a worker to damage a badger sett at a housing development.
Bruce Allan, director of Malcolm Allan Housebuilders, was sentenced at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Tuesday, September 20 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Protection of Badgers Act in Milltimber in June 2020.
The court heard Malcolm Allan Housebuilders bought the Contlaw Road site in Aberdeen in December 2019 and with the sale came an information pack containing reports on the site including a badger protection plan.
The reports showed that the site had an active social clan of badgers residing in the area with a variety of badger sett types including a main sett, annex sett and a variety of outlier setts, foraging activity and well-worn badger paths.
The protection plan stated that a 30m exclusion zone had been created to protect the badger setts from all construction works.
Mr Allan was aware of this when on June 26, 2020 he instructed a digger driver to dig and clear land to construct a road and none of the measures outlined in the Badger Protection Plan were put into practice.
Various members of the public made repeated calls to the company prior to the work starting to voice their concerns about setts being near where work was beginning.
One resident even advised Mr Allan and the digger driver of the presence of badgers immediately before the work commenced that day.
An ecologist concluded that two thirds of the main sett, where the young are reared, and the annex sett, for last year’s young, had been excavated and removed.
The litter would have consisted of between one and 12 cubs and at the time of year the offence occurred, two litters of young would have been present.
Speaking after the sentencing, Karon Rollo, head of the wildlife and environmental crime unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: “The law protects badgers from harm.
“Bruce Allan’s actions were carried out deliberately, with disregard for the consequences they would have for a protected species and the upset and outrage to the local community.
“Hopefully this prosecution will remind other builders and developers that they will be held to account for their failure to fulfil their obligation.”
Mr Allan was fined a total of £9,350 for the offence.
The impact of disturbing badgers in this scenario is the dispersal of a family group.
The animals are then put under pressure to find new territory and put into territorial conflict with other badger clans along with the immediate danger should any be present when the sett is damaged.
In this particular area of the north east of Scotland, there are social clans of badgers approximately every 750m.