Badger welfare will be 'professionally and lawfully managed', says Northampton housing developer, as campaigners stage protest

Northampton residents have today raised concerns over the welfare of a badger sett on green space in Delapre - sold to Barry Howard Homes.

Back in January this year, Northampton Borough Council granted planning permission for Xcite Projects to develop an 11-acre space off Lancaster Way, off Towcester Road, to build nearly 140 houses - and tear through the street's last patch of green space.

Protesters gathered on Lancaster Way, in Delapre, this morning to voice their concerns over badgers welfare on a site sold to Barry Howard for 140 new homes.

Protesters gathered on Lancaster Way, in Delapre, this morning to voice their concerns over badgers welfare on a site sold to Barry Howard for 140 new homes.

The scheme has been controversial for the residents of Lancaster Way and the proposal has been contested since 2007. In the past, residents have protested against losing the road's last green space, which would need to be torn up for a mini roundabout to serve the new development.

Xcite Projects then sold the land to Barry Howard Homes which has today moved heavy machinery onto the site to start de-shrubbing, and developers have put up a fence around the green space.

Barry Howard told the Chronicle & Echo: "We have full planning permission for 11 acres of land on the Lancaster Way site, which was granted a long time ago.

"We are not commencing the development - we are putting up some gates at the front of the development and the machinery was there to de-shrub it.

Barry Howard Homes gained planning permission to build on the site earlier this year.

Barry Howard Homes gained planning permission to build on the site earlier this year.

"The borough council's enforcement officers were at the site on Friday. Officers confirmed there was nothing going on in relation to the planning permission.

But concerns have been raised by the North Northants Badger Group - and about 20 protesters who were on site today - over the welfare of a known badger sett believed to be home to nine animals.

Mr Howard added: "This afternoon we called in our ecologists to make sure any wildlife on the site is professionally and lawfully managed.

"The ecologists will be present all of the time whilst the site is being de-shrubbed.

"We will engage with local wildlife experts through the duration of this housing project so we can deliver the 83 badly needed affordable homes on this site without any problems to local people or local wildlife."

According to the RSPCA, under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 the badgers, and setts (burrows) they live in, are protected by law.

Member of the North Northants Badger Group Billette Marsham, has experience with badger surveys and monitoring badger setts. She said: "We have known for 20-odd years that badgers have settled on this site.

"Last week we got video evidence of badgers coming out of the sett on the site. I went along this morning to speak with the developer. He assured me he was not going to be excavating anywhere near there.

"The only thing he could do now is to get in touch with Natural England and to apply to get a license to move the sett. My concern is that I'm not sure where he's going to move it."

Lancaster Way resident Jamie Seamark went along to the protest to voice his opinions over badger welfare on the site. He said it was a surprise to see the developer turn up on Friday and gate the new estate off.

Describing the protest he said: "It was quite calm we just stood there - we knew we were in the right and we were protecting the badgers.

"Today Barry Howard Homes came with machines to remove trees but because we knew the badgers were on the site we parked the cars to stop them getting the heaving equipment in."

He is also sad to see the children and community lose their green space for fetes and playing sports: "We now have no green space, we are now left in limbo.

"There is nowhere else on this estate at all. It was presumed it would be the green space forever but now it has suddenly gone."