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Make the Badger Act subservient to the Reservoirs Act

Comment 2nd August 2010

It is suggested that recommendations in the Reservoirs Act made in the interests of safety should automatically remove the protection to Badgers under the Badger Act. 

Badgers are numerous and suggestions have been made of widespread culling for other reasons so they should not be regarded in a sentimental way where public safety is at risk.

Why does this matter?

The Reservoirs Act 1975 is intended to prevent the escape of water and protect public safety.  The Badger Act protects badgers and the 2 laws are sometimes in direct conflict.  Badgers dig extensive burrows which can damage embankment dams and flood defences.  Yet stopping of badger holes and removal of the animals is made extremely difficult and time consuming by the application of the Badger Act. 

Example 1: a Category 1 dam near a major city in the north of England has badgers in the lower part of the embankment.  They have been known about for years and are kept under observation.  If the badgers decide to move to the upper part of the dam or dig deeper burrows the  dam could fail. If they did move to a more hazardous location the first procedure for preventing danger to the public would appear to be to empty the reservoir rather than deal with the animals.

Example 2 : A flood embankment protecting a large town in the north of England was inspected under the Reservoirs Act and the Inspecting Engineer was so concerned about the live badger sett he recommended immediate action to remove them in the interests of safety.  This recommendation was not acted upon by the undertaker, the Environment Agency, because of the Badger Act and no attempt was made to reconcile the 2 laws.  Instead they waited some months until the breeding season was over before repairing the embankment.  When it was excavated the burrows were even more extensive than originally thought.  If the Flood banks had been used in a flood they could have failed.  Fortunately, in those few months they were not used.  The EA appeared completely subservient to the interests of the badgers rather than those of the people at risk.

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