The European otter (Lutra lutra) is one of the largest predators found in Britain. It can live in freshwater or coastal habitats. Otters are European protected species, protected in England and Wales under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
This legislation protects the otters from capture, killing, disturbance and injury; damage or destruction of a breeding or resting place; obstruction of access to places of shelter or protection. In addition otter are a Species of Principal Importance under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 in England, Wales and Scotland ensuring that local planning authorities should have regard for such species when determining planning applications.
The otter population has rapidly declined in the past due to culling, water pollution, pesticides, habitat loss and hunting. However, population trends are increasing throughout the UK but threats such as pollution, habitat loss, farming practices, human disturbance are still present.
Mitigation measures for otters will depend on the development or work proposal. Retention of otter habitat, including any areas of shelter and or rest, is desirable, along with avoidance measures such as sensitive timing of work and protection zones, to avoid disturbance. Further mitigation may include habitat creation and enhancement measures and our team of ecologists will be able to provide further pragmatic advice where this may be required.
Our services include:
- Habitat suitability assessment.
- Presence / absence survey and camera trap surveys which can be undertaken at any time of year.
- Endoscope surveys of a holt can also be conducted with a survey licence (depending on the location) from Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage or Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
- Reporting of field surveys including the design of detailed mitigation and compensation strategies, Risk Assessments in relation to proposed operations, Working Method Statements.
- Liaison with planning authorities and consultees on potential impacts and proposed mitigation strategies.
- Negotiation with statutory consultees and licence application where required.
- Implementation of all aspects of proposed mitigation and compensation using specialist Ecological Clerks of Works.