Otters and water vole are fully protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Otters are protected also under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (‘Habitat Regulations’). In summary, the legislation combined makes it an offence to:
If a development has the potential to impact directly or indirectly on the river and holt(s) in the riverbanks, an otter survey will be required to determine their presence and absence and then determine a mitigation strategy.
Surveys for otter and water voles comprise inspections of river banks looking for evidence of the presence of either species such as droppings (spraints with regard to otters), feeding remains and feeding stations, tracks and burrows or holts. Surveys for otter can be carried out throughout the year but evidence may be most readily visible during the spring. Water vole surveys should be carried out between April and October when water voles are active above ground.