Otters are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure, capture or disturb otters. It is also illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place used by the animal for shelter or protection.
It is important to consider the presence of otter within your site, especially if there are watercourses present. Even if watercourses are not being directly impacted, otter are susceptible to indirect impacts of disturbance.
Process for your site:
A preliminary ecological appraisal identifies the suitability of your site for otter and advises on further survey requirements.
A Habitat Suitability Assessment is undertaken upon watercourses on site and adjacent.
Suitable watercourses then require further survey. A systematic search of the banks and immediately adjacent habitat is undertaken. Evidence of otter presence, includes: holts (underground dens), couches (above ground resting areas), spraint, footprints, feeding remains and slides into the water.
Where an otter holt is located on site or adjacent, a Natural England licence is required. We will work with you to come to the appropriate mitigation solution for your site and gain the relevant Natural England development licences.
Habitat Suitability Assessment : year round
Survey of watercourses : no seasonal restrictions, although spring is preferable due to low water levels.