Fears that badgers could be driven away from a wildlife site by new housing have prompted concern from the wider community.
The badgers’ sett is on a small plot of land in Woodingdean which has been owned by Roger’s Wildlife Rescue since 1983.
Plans to build four three-bedroom houses on a neighbouring plot at 7 Deans Close have given rise to concerns after workers cleared trees and brush from the land earlier this year.
The site is currently occupied by a bungalow which previously belonged to the late former Labour and UKIP councillor Leigh Farrow.
And a planning application in the name of Karen Kutter was submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council on Monday 25 October.
Roger’s Wildlife Rescue founder Roger Musselle raised concerns about the tree and shrub clearance in March in a letter to the council’s planning and arboricultural department, along with Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust and Natural England.
The land that he owns to the west of the plot is a designated wildlife site – and Mr Musselle said that several generations of badgers had lived on the site for more than 40 years and used the wider area for foraging.
From his experience, he said, there was always a breeding pair, occasionally two, with up to three young in the sett every year.
Mr Musselle said: “The thing that drove me mad in the first place was they cleared it all before they had planning permission for anything.
“There were some really major trees on that land that were taken down. In these days of climate change, it’s just crazy.”
Residents have started campaigning to encourage people to object to the plans for the site through the Woodingdean Community Facebook Group.
Conservative councillor Dee Simson, who represents Woodingdean, has committed to opposing the scheme with her fellow ward councillor Steve Bell.
She said: “I was first alerted when they started cutting down the trees. I worked with the arboricultural team to get it stopped but it had got so far, they had cleared the site.
“I’m very concerned about the wildlife, the nesting birds and the badgers. The badgers live on Roger’s land and they will be on that site.”
An ecological appraisal submitted as part of the application said that all on-site contractors would be made aware of the potential presence of badgers and any trenches would be covered overnight or fitted with ramps.
The report said: “Although no evidence of badgers was seen during the survey, the dense vegetation on site offered suitable habitat for breeding badgers.
“There were also suitable areas to allow badgers to commute and feed. Overall, the site offered moderate potential for breeding badgers and moderate potential for foraging and commuting badgers.”
To see or comment on the planning application, visit the planning pages on the council’s website and search for BH2021/03806.
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