Badgers. ©Laurie Campbell. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Badgers: licences for land management

Land managers may need a licence for forestry or agricultural operations, or drainage and sea-water defence works near to setts.

Badgers may occupy a range of habitats from sea cliffs to upland areas. They’re usually associated with woodland but most often found around agricultural land.

Most land management practices are unlikely to affect badgers or their setts. But you should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to badgers.

Forestry operations

Badger setts are often found in woodland. You may require a licence for woodland management works – including vehicle access – within 20m of a sett entrance (30m during the badger breeding season, 30 November to 1 July).

Standard forestry operations licence

We can grant our standard forestry operations licence to permit felling and harvesting operations within 20m of badger setts between 1 July and 30 November.

To apply, your operations must be carried out using standard mitigation measures. This involves creating a protection zone that extends 20m from all sett entrances and which no heavy machinery or vehicles may enter.

The individual in charge of carrying out or overseeing the operations must apply for the licence. First make sure that your proposal meets the licence terms.

Read the Standard forestry operations licence 2019: application details and licence terms

To apply for the licence, email [email protected].

You should include in your email:

  • your name, position and company
  • roughly when the work is proposed to take place
  • the number of setts to be covered by the licence
  • grid references for each of these setts
  • the number of sett entrances for each sett
  • map or plan clearly showing sett locations

We will confirm by email that the person is covered by the licence to carry out the operations in accordance with the terms of the licence. Works will only be legally covered once you have this confirmation from us.

More complex forestry operations

You must apply for a licence for non-standard forestry operations if either:

  • you’re planning more complex activities – e.g. exclusion of setts or bringing vehicles within 20m of sett entrances
  • you can’t comply with one or more of the standard forestry operations licence terms or conditions

See the Licence application form – badgers and forestry: non-standard operation

Agricultural operations

You should apply to us for a licence if you’re planning agricultural operations within 30m of a sett entrance and the work might otherwise constitute an offence in relation to badgers.

To apply for a licence for agricultural operations, email [email protected].

You should include:

  • your full name, address and telephone number
  • the number, status and location (grid reference) of the setts
  • the number of sett entrances for each sett
  • full details of what it is you propose to do and whether setts will be temporarily blocked, damaged, destroyed or subject to disturbance

Drainage and sea-water defences

We issue licences to permit interference with badger setts to carry out works to maintain or improve watercourses or drainage. This includes works related to sea or tidal defences.

To apply for a licence for watercourse or drainage works, email [email protected].

We are able to licence flood alleviation works that might affect badgers or their setts under the licensable purpose of preventing serious damage to property.

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.


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
Telephone: 01463 725 364
Email: [email protected]