European Otter

To book your Otter Survey

Call Midland Ecology

07854473385

or email info@midlandecology.co.uk

For fast, friendly and affordable service

Otters (Lutra lutra), their breeding sites and resting places are protected by law.

In most cases, you should be able to avoid harming otters by adjusting your planned work. If you can’t avoid disturbing them or damaging their habitats, you will require a licence from Natural England. If you need to apply for planning permission, your planning authority will check you’re taking the right steps to avoid harming them.

You may be required to undertake surveys for otters if there is a risk that your development may present harm to them or destroy their habitat. Otters are found in and around rivers, streams, ditches, ponds, lakes, canals, marshes, coastal areas, estuaries and also on the land close to these habitats.

Your local planning authority should advise you, or your architect, that a Preliminary Ecological Assessment, Extended Phase I Habitat Survey or Otter Survey is necessary.

The otter Lutra lutra was once widespread in Europe, but the 1960s and 1970s saw sharp declines in populations due to pollution and exacerbated by hunting and habitat loss. For these reasons both the otter and its habitat are legally protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and by the EC Habitats Directive, (transposed into domestic law through the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c) Regulations 1994 (as amended) (the Habitats Regulations).

Cumulatively, this legislation makes it illegal to:

- capture, kill, disturb or injure otters (on purpose or by not taking enough care)

- damage or destroy a breeding or resting place (even accidentally)

- obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places (on purpose or by not taking enough care)

- possess, sell, control or transport live or dead otters, or parts of otters

If you carry out work affecting Otters, their breeding sites and resting places without a license you will be breaking the law.

Penalties on conviction include

- A maximum fine of £5,000

- Up to six months in prison

for each offence.

In order to conduct your Otter Survey, Midland Ecology will require the following information:

- Your/your client’s name and contact details (e-mail address and telephone number)

- The full site address

- Access to the site and any watercourses running along the site boundaries. Please ensure any alarm/lock codes/keys are sent to us in advance.

- A copy of your Preliminary Ecological Assessment or Extended Phase I Habitat Survey if you’ve previously had another ecologist carry one out.

- Full site plan (current condition in PDF format).

- Your development proposals (in PDF format).

An Otter Survey takes place during daylight hours and can be conducted at any time of year, with spring as the optimal survey period, when evidence is often easier to find.

If your development is likely to have large impacts on a suitable watercourse, is a particularly large site or if the initial survey cannot conclusively rule out recent otter activity, further repeat visits in order to establish changing activity patterns may be required.

Click here to view our survey calendar

Assuming visibility is not affected, this type of survey can be conducted in any weather.

The aim of the survey is to establish the current status of otters in the area, suitable food resources and habitat requirements; in order to assess the impact of the development in relation to otters.

A desk based study will establish watercourses in the immediate vicinity of the site using MAGIC and aerial images from Google Earth and a search of the National Biodiversity Network will ascertain whether any records of Otters exist for the area.

A surveyor will assess the site itself and any watercourses in the immediate vicinity of the site (where access can be gained) looking for evidence of otters such as dung (spraints), tracks (footprints), feeding remains, otter slides (into water), holts (underground dens) and couches (above ground sites where otters rest during the day).

It is not necessary for you to be present during the survey as long as there is open access to all of the land in need of surveying, including the site itself and watercourses in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development area boundary. Please ensure any alarm/lock codes/keys are sent to us in advance.

Midland Ecology includes as standard a scoping Otter Survey as part of a Preliminary Ecological Assessment or Extended Phase I Habitat Survey. Assuming access can be gained to any watercourses in the immediate vicinity of the site on the same visit, no further cost will be charged.

The cost of an Otter Survey is determined by the size of the site and the number of watercourses to be surveyed. Our fee includes the desk study, site visit* and the production of a report, with associated costs (e.g. mileage, expenses) all included. Call us on 07854473385 or e-mail us for a more detailed quote.

Unless these have already been obtained as part of a recent survey on the site, biological records data will also be required. This is provided by your local biological records centre, who will charge their own fee. We will contact them for a quote on your behalf.

*If your development is likely to have large impacts on a suitable watercourse, is a particularly large site or if the initial survey cannot conclusively rule out recent otter activity, further repeat visits in order to establish changing activity patterns may be required. Your surveyor will discuss this with you and agree any further costs before undertaking the work.

Midland Ecology aims to have your finished report with you within 10 days of completing the final day of surveying.

Depending on your local records centre, Biological Records Data (BRD) can delay the final version of your report. We will request a probable timescale when obtaining your quote, and advise you immediately of any likely delays.

If otters, their breeding sites and resting places, and evidence of their activity are all absent from the site, then this type of survey will usually provide adequate evidence to satisfy your local planning authority that your proposed development poses no risk to Otters.

If your development is likely to have large impacts on a suitable watercourse, is a particularly large site or if the initial survey cannot conclusively rule out recent otter activity, repeat visits in order to establish changing activity patterns may be required.

If otters are found, there is no need to panic – it does not usually mean that your development can’t go ahead, in fact it is very rare that a development will need to stop altogether. A European Protected Species (EPS) development license issued by Natural England (NE) will be required prior to any works taking place and you may need to adapt your plans slightly to compensate and mitigate for the otters. Midland Ecology can work with you to obtain this development license and design a mitigation and compensation strategy to be implemented with Natural England and the Local Planning Authority.