Water Vole

Why might you need water vole surveys?

In England, water voles are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981 as amended). As such it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take water voles or to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place used by the animal for shelter or protection or to disturb water voles whilst they are using such a place. Water voles also have partial protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act in Scotland.

As such, it is essential to assess when a proposed development may adversely impact this species or areas they use as burrows. Typically, this comprises works affecting nearby watercourses which support this species, either directly or indirectly. Water voles can also exist terrestrially in grassland, although this is much less frequently encountered, but may need to be considered in certain locations. It is therefore essential that appropriate survey work is carried out to assess whether water vole are present and the potential impacts the proposed works may have on them.

What should you expect to happen?

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal 

Water Vole Surveys Detailed water vole surveys will be carried out by two surveyors, walking within the watercourse where possible. Water voles themselves can be difficult to find, therefore surveyors will look for evidence of the species such as latrines, burrows and feeding remains. Typically, two surveys will be required, however we will advise on survey effort on a site by site basis.

Reporting Following completion of survey work, results of water vole surveys will typically be incorporated into an existing preliminary ecological appraisal report. This will include assessment of impacts to water vole and any recommendations for mitigation and/or compensation.

Licensing If water voles will be affected by works, a licence may be needed. Water vole licensing requirements are currently different in England, Scotland and Wales, therefore we will advise on licensing on a case by case basis.

When can surveys be carried out?

Water vole surveys should ideally be carried out between April and September, with one survey held between April and June, and a second survey held between July and September.

What experience do E3 have?

The E3 team have a broad experience of carrying out water vole surveys, including using water vole “rafts” as artificial platforms to collect droppings. Members of the team can advise on mitigation and compensation for this species as well as licensing.