A Hillsborough landowner says he has employed experts to establish the facts surrounding the alleged destruction - now under police investigation - of what some locals have claimed to be a badger sett.
Mr Bill Porter this week strenuously denied that he, or any of his employees, was aware of any risk whatsoever to local wildlife when undertaking excavation work on his own farmland in the vicinity of Downshire Crescent.
“I would never knowingly have authorised work that had the potential to upset local wildlife,” he said.
“I will co-operate fully with the authorities and I have already commissioned a team of environmental experts to conduct a survey to determine if there were any badger setts or badgers in the vicinity.”
Ulster Unionist Councillor Alexander Redpath said he alerted the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, which is responsible for the legislation under which badgers are protected, after he was recently contacted by constituents who raised concerns about what they said was a badger sett.
“Hillsborough,” he said, “is blessed with a picturesque and biodiverse countryside.
“It is important that local people take personal responsibility for protecting our environment and if I can offer any help and support I will always be glad to do so.”
Police and partner agencies are investigating the alleged breach of leglislation which, among other things, prohibits destruction of, or damage to, a badger sett, obstruction of access by badgers, destruction of, or damage to, anything which conceals or protects a badger and disturbance of a badger while occupying a sett.
A spokesperson said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland takes wildlife crime very seriously and will investigate if there is a breach in the legislation.
“In Northern Ireland Badgers and their setts are protected under the Wildlife Order 1985 (as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (NI) 2011.” Anyone with information about the destruction of badger setts is asked to contact police in Lisburn on the non-emergency number - 101 - or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.