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Posted by: Sara King BSc (Hons) MCIEEM on 25/06/2014

New water vole guidelines are set to be released towards the end of this year. There are likely to be some significant changes to the way water vole surveys need to be undertaken, and how water vole mitigation strategies can be implemented. Some of the key changes are detailed below:

Currently, water vole surveys comprise a habitat suitability assessment of a watercourse for water voles, followed by a presence/absence survey. Water vole presence absence surveys can be undertaken any time between April and October. The new guidelines are likely to state that two presence/absence surveys will be required to inform a planning application for a scheme. There will be more seasonal restrictions on when these can be undertaken; one visit will need to be undertaken mid-April – June and one July-Sept with at least two months between surveys.

In terms of water vole mitigation implementation, restrictions on displacement techniques are likely to be implemented. This will include a requirement for a water vole development licence for displacement implementation (a licence is not currently required). Displacement techniques will only be able to be implemented for small sections of ditches affected, likely to be between 30m and 50m, and can only be undertaken between 1 March and mid-April. Trapping will still require a licence, but the timings are likely to be amended to between March and early April, and late September to November. Water voles trapped during the autumn season will need to be kept in captivity over the winter and released the following spring.

The guidelines are yet to be finalised, so the above is just an indication of likely changes. However, these changes are likely to have an impact on both planning programmes for projects requiring a water vole survey, and the implementation of water vole mitigation strategies.

In summary, the key changes are likely to be:

 

Existing guidelines

 

Likely changes in new guidelines

Water vole presence/absence surveys can be undertaken between April and October, and usually requires one survey to inform a planning application.

 

Two surveys are likely to be required to inform planning. There will be more seasonal restrictions on when these can be undertaken; one visit will need to be undertaken mid-April – June and one July-Sept with at least two months between surveys.

 

Displacement techniques do not require a development licence, and can be undertaken for small sections of watercourses between February and early April.

Displacement techniques will require a development licence, and can only be used on small sections of ditch between 30 and 50m. Displacement can only be undertaken between 1 March and mid-April,

Trapping can only be undertaken between March and end of April and requires a development licence.

Trapping will still need a licence, and can be undertaken between March and early April, and late September to November. Water voles trapped during the autumn season will need to be kept in captivity over the winter and released the following spring.

 

Image courtesy of Martin Pettit, British Wildlife Centre (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdpettitt/3805866844/in/photolist-6Nj4BS-4...


Categories: Ecological Consulting
Tags: ecological consulting | ecological contracting | habitat creation | Water Vole | water vole guidelines | water vole mitigation | water vole survey
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