Construction manager fined for damaging badger sett

A 53-year-old Edinburgh site manager has been fined £3,600 after bulldozing a badger sett.

Bryan Gilfillan from Restalrig was sentenced at Livingston Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to a breach of the Protection of Badgers Act when he contracted workers to bulldoze earth over a badger sett at a housing development in West Calder

The prosecutor told the court that the offence happened at a new housing development at Raw Holdings, East Calder between 8 and 15 October 2021.

An ecology report carried out by Persimmon Homes found badger setts on the site and created an exclusion plan in relation to them.

In August 2021, further planning permission was sought, and fencing was erected to ensure all works kept 30 meters away from all setts.

The following month J&B Future Developments purchased the land adjacent to the initial development site.

On Saturday 9 October 2021 Persimmon staff found their fencing had been taken down and machine tracks could be seen in the soft ground. The next working day they contacted the police due to the proximity of the tracks to the badger setts.

Three days later Persimmon staff found the area around the setts had been stripped of vegetation and bulldozed and the earth pushed over the top of them. Persimmons reported the incident to the police.

On Friday 15th October police spoke to site manager Gilfillan. He told them that any activity on site had been authorised by him.

Gilfillan said, “we did checks, we gave the bushes and the fence a shake and a good kick, nothing came out".

The men who Gilfillan had contracted to carrying out the groundwork had not been informed of active badger setts in the area.

An ecologist confirmed the damage to the previously active setts. There was no badger activity around them and because of the damage they could not check within the setts.

Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on wildlife and environmental crime for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: 

“Bryan Gilfillan’s actions were deliberate and carried out with a reckless disregard for the consequences they could have for a protected species.

“The law protects badgers from harm and COPFS will continue to work to ensure anyone who breaks the law faces prosecutorial action.”