Avian Ecology was commissioned to undertake ecology surveys on a site that had planning permission with no consideration for ecology. A change in layout design (including re-directing the watercourse) had flagged the need for ecology surveys despite works currently ongoing. Avian undertook a water vole habitat assessment and an initial survey found presence in the form of droppings and latrines. A second survey confirmed a low population of water voles was present on Site (methodology adopted from the Water vole Mitigation Handbook, [Dean et al., 2016]).
Due to the tight turnaround with works already underway, Avian worked with Derek Gow Consultancy (DGC) to obtain a site licence. This involved clear liaison with the client, DGC and Natural England to ensure an appropriate scheme was adopted. Timing was imperative for this work, to ensure the licence was agreed and works undertaken before the end of the season (30th November) otherwise works would have needed to be put on hold until the following year.
Avian Ecology assisted in the preparation of a mitigation strategy and subsequent amendment following consultation with Natural England. After a lot of communication back and forth, the licence was approved and trapping commenced in November 2019 by a licensed water vole ecologist at Avian and DGC. The water voles were trapped and overwintered and the ditch habitat was destroyed under supervision. Works continued straight away, with minimal delay to the development and in line with legislation.
Complications relating to the outbreak of corona virus in 2020 required licence amendments and complex liaison by Avian with the client team and DGC. The mitigation strategy was finally agreed by NE, and the water voles were released elsewhere as part of a reintroduction programme, with habitat on site reinstated and a section enhanced as set out in the mitigation strategy.