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New badger rules raise concerns

2 October 2006 - BBC News

A row is brewing over moves to give badger habitats greater protection against housing developments in the Highlands.
Officials are putting together a planning guidance note for developers which makes clear the wild animals will have precedence.

But one councillor has warned that he did not want much-needed housing stopped by a few badgers.

The guidance will be aimed at speeding up planning applications.

Badgers are protected by law and the new note is being written by council and Scottish Natural Heritage officials.

One of its points will be that developers must employ badger surveyors to discover if badger social groups exist in the area earmarked for building work.

There are large badger populations around Inverness and councillor Margaret Davidson claimed there were now thousands in areas zoned for major housing development.

She said she feared this would create a whole new industry involving badger surveyors.

Councillor Bob Wynd also warned the Highlands had already lost the Longman rubbish tip to protect birds and now a small number of animals could potentially stop much-needed housing.

Councillors have asked for details on badger densities before the guidance note is agreed.

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