Legislation and Policy
Otter is protected through inclusion in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (as amended) and under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which consolidates all the various amendments made to the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 in respect of England and Wales. The 1994 Regulations transposed Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (EC Habitats Directive) into national law. Taken together, these legislative instruments make it illegal to:
• intentionally kill, injure or take an Otter
• damage, destroy, or obstruct access to any structure or place used by a Otter for shelter or protection
• disturb Otters whilst they are occupying such a structure or place
• sell, offer for sale, possess or transport for the purpose of sale (live or dead animal, part or derivative)
• advertise for buying or selling such things
• possess a live or dead Otter, part or derivative
The Otter is also a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Priority Species and there is a national Species Action Plan (SAP) for its conservation. The Countryside Rights of Way Act, 2000 requires that developers carry out otter surveys prior to obtaining planning permission.
UK planning policy under the terms of Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS 9) sets out the Government’s national policies on different aspects of planning in England that regional planning bodies and local planning authorities (LPAs) are expected to consider. Key components of this policy include:
• Planning decisions should be based on up-to-date information (e.g. surveys) about the environmental characteristics of their areas;
• Planning decisions should aim to maintain, enhance, restore or add to biodiversity interests. In taking decisions LPAs should ensure that appropriate emphasis is attached to designated sites, protected species, and to biodiversity interests within the wider environment;
• The aim of planning decisions should be to prevent harm to biodiversity interests.
• It also emphasis’s that development proposals provide many opportunities for building-in beneficial biodiversity features as part of good design and that when considering proposals, LPAs should maximise such opportunities in and around developments.
PPS 9 requires that LPA’s take steps to promote the conservation of habitats and species of ‘principal importance’ (i.e. BAP habitats and species) through their planning function.
Therefore developments on sites where Otters may be present need to be mindful of this legislation and policy.
Cambridge Ecology has extensive experience in surveying for Otter using specific survey techniques to determine the presence or likely absence of Otter within the study area. The data collected is used to devise appropriate mitigation strategies.
Cambridge Ecology has a wide range of skills required in this specialist area. These include the use of various standard and specialised Otter surveys methods such as:
• Field sign searches – this involves the identification of field signs such as footprints and spraints and assessment of habitat suitability. Surveys may be carried out at any time of the year, although surveys are most successful in the summer, autumn and winter periods.
• Remote-sensing surveys – involves the use of camera trap equipment to confirm presence and to identify foraging habitats and commuting routes.
Habitat Creation and Mitigation
• Mitigation strategies and method statements to inform development licence applications ensure our clients remain complaint with the relevant legislation. A development that may result in the loss of Otter Holts or the disturbance of Otters requires a development licence.
• Creation of artificial shelters and habitats suitable for Otter.
• Establishment of temporary exclusion zones.
• Installation of fencing to discourage animals from crossing roads and installing tunnels for animals to use to safely pass from one area to another avoiding crossing while roads.