Water Vole Surveys

Developing Near An Agricultural Ditch Or Pond?

Water voles are the fastest declining mammal species in the UK. Between 1989 and 1998 numbers dropped by over 90%. If you are planning to develop near a water body such as an agricultural ditch or pond, you may require a water vole survey.

The majority of ecological surveys are seasonally constrained. Use our ecology survey calendar to plan your project timetable and factor in any seasonal constraints to project timescales as early as possible to prevent any delays.

Water Vole Surveys and The Law

Water voles are protected in the UK under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Under this piece of legislation, it is an offence to:

  • Intentionally kill, injure or take (capture) a Water Vole.
  • Possess or control a live or dead Water Vole, or any part of a Water Vole
  • Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which Water Voles use for shelter or protection or disturb
  • Water Voles while they are using such a place.
  • Sell, offer for sale or advertise for sale, live or dead Water Voles.

Water voles are priority species under post 2010 biodiversity framework, species of principle importance under Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and species of material consideration within the planning/development process.

Water Vole Surveying

A Water Vole Survey will be carried out by experienced JCA ecologists and will assess the banks for signs of water vole activity including footprints, latrines, and burrows. An overall assessment of the suitability of the site for water voles will also take place. Water voles are active all year round, however, they are less active in winter. Surveys can be done between March and October with the optimal time between April and September. Please see the Ecology Survey Calendar.

If its is found that a development will have a negative effect on the water vole population, JCA can put in place a Mitigation Plan and apply for a Mitigation Licence from Natural England on your behalf.