The European otter is the only native UK otter species. It’s a European protected species (EPS) and is also fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
You’re breaking the law if you:
If you’re found guilty of an offence you could get an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison.
When is an Otter survey required?
If the any of the following statements are true, an Otter survey will most likely be expected by the LPA
Additionally, the LPA can request a survey to demonstrate that they have considered potential impacts upon otters.
Surveys should be done by a suitably experienced surveyor. They might also have to be a licensed surveyor.
Look for evidence of otters, including:
You can survey at any time of year, but the best time is spring. This is because evidence is often easier to find during spring, as water levels recede and wet mud is exposed where paw prints can be seen more easily.
You might not need to do detailed survey work if avoidance and mitigation measures are built into development proposals, but you must provide enough information in the survey to understand:
Otter activity varies according to the season. You might need to do several surveys throughout the year to establish how big the impacts are and what mitigation measures might be necessary. How many surveys you’ll need to do depends on -
Assessing the impacts
Otters are highly territorial animals with large home ranges. Depending on the quality of the habitat and availability of food males can range along rivers for 35km. Otters will continue to try and use routes if alternatives are not included in a mitigation strategy. Impacts to consider include:
Mitigation will be expected by the LPA to offset the impacts.
Water Voles -
Water voles receive full legal protection through its inclusion in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) in respect of section 9 as well as the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000. This section of the Act makes it illegal to intentionally kill, injure, or capture a water vole; possess or control alive or dead water voles, or any part of a water vole or anything derived from a water vole; intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy, or obstruct access to any structure or place which a water vole uses for shelter or protection; intentionally or recklessly disturb a water vole while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for shelter or protection.
Water voles are closely associated with fresh water habitats, generally slow-flowing, less than 3 m wide and approximately 1 m deep, including rivers, ditches, lakes and canals. They favour steep banks, which need to be suitable for burrowing and well vegetated. Their diet is almost exclusively vegetarian, including grasses, reeds and other herbaceous vegetation.
The methodology involves an assessment of both banks of all the water courses/ditches running through and around the site. This is often achieved by walking in the water course and having surveyors on the banks too.
A search would be made for possible signs of water vole activity including:
Please contact us for a site specific quotation -
Please call us on 0800 888 6846 / 07736 458609