A BADGER protection group has upped its campaign to halt a £3m development which threatens a badger sett.

Members of the Essex Badger Protection Group have launched two petitions and enlisted support from a celebrity vet in a bid to convince Brentwood Council to shelve plans to build two six-bedroom houses on land adjacent to Longaford Way, in Hutton Mount.

They gathered more than 500 signatures at an open day for Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary, near Ingatestone, and that number has since increased to 1,000.

The campaigners have also launched an online petiton.

They hope to convince Brentwood Council not to give developers, Stonebond Properties, the go-ahead to build as they say the development will destroy a nearby badger sett.

TV vet Emma Milne has added her voice to the campaign.

She said: “As a veterinary surgeon and animal lover I would like to add my support to this campaign and petition.

“These badgers have lived undisturbed and been enjoyed by the residents for years and deserve to be left alone.”

When the matter came before the council’s planning committee last month, councillors deferred making a decision on the matter while further investigations take place.

The developer, which is a subsidiary of Countryside Properties, said if planning permission is granted, it will build an artificial sett nearby and protect it using a covenant to secure the badgers’ future.

But campaigner Ralph Patmore, who lives in Challacombe Close, Hutton Mount, said Stonebond’s proposals will not protect the badgers.

He pointed to the example of where an artificial sett in Thorndon Park collapsed six months after it was put in.

The matter could be decided at next Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s planning and development control meeting.

To sign the petition, go to www.thepetitionsite.com/1/ save-the-shenfield-badgers.