Badgers: licences for development

A developer may need a licence if planned development works could interfere with a badger sett.

NatureScot is responsible for issuing licences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (as amended) for the purpose of development.

Licences can only permit someone to ‘interfere’ with a badger sett for the purpose of development. A licence cannot permit the removal, translocation or killing of badgers for the purpose of development.

Interference primarily means anything that might:

  • disturb any badger in a sett
  • damage or block the tunnels that radiate from a sett’s entrances

We generally say that development within 30m of a badger sett entrance could result in interference to the sett. We may extend this distance where more disruptive works such as blasting or pile-driving are planned.

Licences aren’t generally issued during the breeding season (30 November to 1 July) and can’t be granted retrospectively. Activities that necessarily involve disturbance should be scheduled to take place outside of this period.

How to apply

A protected species licence application for development projects should not be made until the necessary planning permissions and consents are in place.  This should be considered when signing the relevant licence application declaration.

To obtain a licence for 'badgers and development', fill in the application form below and email it to [email protected].

Download the Licence application form – badgers and development

You must usually have full planning permission in place before a licence can be granted.

Badger Ecologist licence

'Badger Ecologist' licences can be issued to permit works with low conservation impacts to go ahead (if certain criteria are met) for the purposes of development, preventing serious damage, forestry and agricultural operations.

If you are an experienced badger ecologist in Scotland and you would like to apply for the Badger Ecologist licence please read the Badger Ecologist licence - an ecologist's guide to check you meet the criteria and for information on how to apply.

Survey and mitigation

If badgers are likely to be present on or near a development site, we strongly recommend that a suitably experienced person conducts a badger survey. Read the Badger - current use guidance.

It pays to address how development might affect any protected species at the earliest possible opportunity. Doing so as part of the planning application process almost always avoids delays later on.

Where badgers or setts are found on or near a development site, a species protection plan should be drawn up.

This should examine:

  • the impacts of the development on badgers
  • ways to avoid or minimise those impacts

If setts may be directly affected, you may require a licence for the work to go ahead legally.

Read the Best practice model badger protection plan guidance note

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.

Find out more

Data Protection notice

Guidance notes for providing supporting information for badger licence applications

For advice on planning consultations and applications for developments that could affect badgers, read our Standing Advice for Planning Consultations.

For all development proposals that may impact badgers in the Inverness and Highlands area read the Highland Council Badger Policy Guidance Note.


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team

01463 725364

[email protected]

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