What we do
Where a site contains, or is located in close proximity to, a watercourse or suitable waterbody, aquatic mammals are often a consideration. Two of the most frequently encountered aquatic mammals are otter and water vole, both of which are legally protected.
Middlemarch are able to complete surveys for both otter and water vole, and is experienced in the design and implementation of mitigation for both species. Middlemarch have also undertaken habitat creation for water voles at a range of sites.
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Otters are highly mobile animals, therefore surveys tend to focus on both the site itself and an appropriate distance up and down stream. Otter surveys are generally undertaken by a two-person team for reasons of health and safety, and include:
- A visual assessment of habitat to determine suitability to support otters during various stages of their annual cycle.
- A visual inspection for evidence of otters along the watercourse, including footprints, feeding remains, spraints (droppings) and slides.
- An inspection of suitable areas of adjacent habitat for the presence of holts.
Water Vole Survey
The best practice methodology for completing water vole surveys was updated in 2016 to ensure more robust survey findings. Water vole surveys are generally undertaken by a two-person team for reasons of health and safety, and include:
- A visual assessment of habitat to determine suitability to support water voles.
- Two site visits to search for evidence of water voles, including feeding remains, latrines, footprints and grazed ‘lawns’. These visits comprise an early season visit (Mid April-June) and a late season visit (July-September). Survey visits are generally completed at least two months apart.
Mitigation & Licensing
Any works with the potential to disturb or otherwise impact upon otters and water voles or their breeding and resting sites may cause a breach of legislation, and are likely to require a development (otters) or conservation (water voles) licence from the relevant Statutory National Government Organisation.
Middlemarch Environmental have a proven track record of successful mitigation design, licence application and implementation. In particular, a number of recent projects have involved large scale water vole mitigation and habitat creation.
In addition to otter and water vole surveys, Middlemarch Environmental have extensive experience of providing cost-effective ecological solutions for all aspects of otter assessment and mitigation and can also provide the following services:
- Habitat disturbance: provision of experienced ecological clerk of works
- Advising on how to incorporate aquatic mammals into development
- Habitat creation and enhancement