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Thomson Ecology HandbookAnimal welfare law

TEH Index

Part 1: Legal frameworks

Part 2: Planning policy and other guidance

Part 3: Development and features of biodiversity importance

Part 4: Surveys and assessment

Part 5: Mitigation and enhancement

Part 6: Practical techniques

Chapter 3: Animal welfare law

In addition to legislation designed to protect sites, habitats and species of conservation concern, there is also legislation which relates mainly to preventing cruelty to animals. Some of this protection is given through the main wildlife legislation; however, there is also some specific animal welfare legislation which may be relevant to development projects. This is outlined in the following tables.

Legislation which relates solely to methods of hunting has been omitted from the tables.

Table 5A: Animal welfare legislation (England & Wales)

Legislation Description
Protection of Badgers Act 1992     
Provides strict protection for badgers and their setts, including those found on development sites.
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 This makes it an offence to crush or asphyxiate any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering. This may apply during site clearance for development, particularly where burrowing animals such as foxes and rabbits are present, since such animals could be crushed or asphyxiated in their burrows by heavy machinery.
Animal Welfare Act 2006 Amongst other protection for animals, this makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering or fail to meet the needs of vertebrates in the temporary control of man. This legislation may apply to projects involving the translocation of vertebrates. 

Table 5B: Animal welfare legislation (Scotland)

Legislation Description
Protection of Badgers Act 1992 Provides strict protection for badgers and their setts, including those found on development sites.
Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 This makes it an offence to wilfully kill or injure any deer without permission, remove carcasses without permission or to kill by any means other than by shooting. 
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996
This makes it an offence to crush or asphyxiate any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering.This may apply during site clearance for development, particularly where burrowing animals such as foxes and rabbits are present, since such animals could be crushed or asphyxiated in their burrows by heavy machinery. 
Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 Amongst other protection for animals, this makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering or fail to meet the needs of vertebrates in the temporary control of man. This legislation may apply to projects involving the translocation of vertebrates.
Protection of Seals under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 It is an offence to kill, injure or take a seal at any time of year except to alleviate suffering or where a licence has been issued to do so by Marine Scotland under part 6 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

Table 5C: Animal welfare legislation (Northern Ireland)

Legislation Description
Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 Together with other protection for animals, this makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to or to fail to meet the needs of vertebrates in the temporary control of man. This legislation may apply to projects involving the translocation of vertebrates.

Table 5D: Animal welfare legislation (Ireland)

Legislation Description
Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 Together with other protection for animals, this makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to or to fail to meet the welfare needs of any animal in the temporary control of man. Penalties include summary conviction of up to € 5,000 and on indictment € 250,000 and/or imprisonment up to 5 years. This legislation may apply to projects involving the translocation of vertebrates. 

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