Brentwood council accused of 'ecological vandalism' by badger campaigners

The land off Echo Hill is a wildlife haven.

Essex Badger Protection Group has condemned the council's decision to force out badgers - Credit: Alan Linsdell

Campaigners have accused Brentwood Borough Council of “ecological vandalism” for expelling endangered badgers from a huge sett on council land.

Vice chair of Essex Badger Protection Group, Darren Parker, condemned the decision by the council to allow the badger sett in La Plata Wood to be covered in wire fencing, which forces badgers away.

The environmentalist said the situation is even more serious given the authority has only just designated the area a community asset to ensure the long-term protection of the wildlife in it.

He said: “I am absolutely disgusted by it.

“I find the decision that has been made there very strange and I am escalating complaints with Natural England, who licensed the work, and the council directly.”

He had earlier tweeted: “Utterly outrageous behaviour from a local council. This sett had been known to @EssexBadgers for over 50 years but the badgers have now been evicted simply because they were too close to an adjacent building site. No justification for this sort of ecological vandalism.”

He said the large sett has been covered in wire following concerns from a developer’s ecologist that the badgers are living too close to some of the sites that are being developed on the wood’s periphery.

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A spokesperson for the authority said: “Brentwood Borough Council owns woodland to the south of the badger sett area and a licence to grant the temporary closure of the sett was granted by Natural England on June 21, 2021.”

Government guidance states licences to exclude badgers and to close down or destroy a sett are only issued between July 1 and November 30, “other than in exceptional circumstances”.

The borough council agreed to list La Plata Wood as an Asset of Community Value on June 28 in order to ensure its future as a “vital wildlife habitat”.

Mr Parker said: “To execute the licence the ecologist would need permission from Brentwood Council as the land owner.

“And that is where I am frankly astonished that that permission was given – given it is their land and is supposedly being managed as a community asset.”

Moreover he added that under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 “every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity”.

Natural England has been contacted for comment.