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Company director fined over £9000 for damaging a badger sett

The director of a construction company has been fined £9,350 after allowing a worker to damage a badger sett at a housing development in Aberdeen.

Bruce Allan, director of Malcolm Allan Housebuilders, was sentenced at Aberdeen Sheriff Court today 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 December 2019.  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 30-metre exclusion zone had been created to protect the badger setts from all construction works.

Allan was aware of this when on 26 June 2020 he instructed a digger driver to dig and clear land to construct a road.

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 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 set and the annex sett have been excavated and removed.

The main sett is where young are reared with the annex setts for last year’s young. A litter will be between one and 12 young and at the time of year this offence occurred two litters of young would be present.

Speaking after the sentencing, Karon Rollo, Head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit of 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."

The impact of disturbing badgers in this scenario is the dispersal of a family group. They 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. This is because there is a social clan in this area of the NE of Scotland approximately every 750m.