AN ARTIFICIAL badger sett will have to be created if a developer is to go ahead with plans to build a house.

Graham Flint, the director of Pye Homes, has already received planning permission to build a five-bed property in Webbs Way, Kidlington, which will be his family home.

But more than 1,200 people have now signed an online petition urging Natural England not to grant the necessary licence he needs.

It states: “All over the country wildlife is losing out in the relentless march to build more and more houses.

“We are trying to save a large colony of badgers from being destroyed to build one house.”

Webbs Way resident Linda Ward set up the petition. She said: “They have lived here for an awfully long time. It’s just not appropriate to remove them just for one property.”

The 59-year-old said: “It’s about raising awareness about this massively important sett. It shows I’m not the only one with an issue here.”

Another resident Paul Webb, 50, added: “The badgers don’t have a voice for themselves and can’t stand up for themselves. Their long-term future is bleak.”

Mr Flint was granted planning permission by Cherwell District Council last November after two previous refusals but with the condition that he receives a licence from Natural England to remove the badgers.

A spokesman for Natural England said that each licence is issued depending on the merits of the case but would not comment on the Kidlington plans.

Its website states: “It is a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly interfere with a sett. The law does not permit licences to capture badgers for development purposes, so physically moving them out of the way of development is not an option.”

If he receives a licence, Mr Flint will have to build an artificial sett.

He said: “The process has to be signed off by Natural England experts – a replacement sett built to a specification – and then we have to show the badgers have used the sett. We also need to show that the old sett has not been used for a period of time before carefully decommissioning it in a controlled manner.”

He said he was disappointed with the petition and said that many of the points raised have already been addressed in proposals.

Julia Hammett, of the Oxfordshire Badger Group, said: “Almost two-thirds of the site is a well-established, large, main badger sett.

“We feel that closing a main sett and trying to move the badgers to an artificial sett is rarely successful and that the long-term future of these badgers is uncertain.

“We urge the developer to listen to the residents and leave this site alone.”