New water vole mitigation guidelines are out for the UK’s fastest declining mammal. The guidelines provide details of appropriate survey methods and effort to inform planning decisions, which developers will find useful to know. But perhaps the most significant impact may be the new requirement for the displacement of water voles to be a licensed activity.
Displacement was a previously established technique which essentially involved removal of vegetation around burrows to encourage water voles to leave. Natural England now consider that removal of vegetation specifically to encourage water voles to leave constitutes unlawful disturbance.
JFA will continue to review this document and new process and will provide a more detailed summary of what this means for our Clients in due course, watch this space.
Will this policy reduce costs, delays and uncertainty for developers?
The desire for change to policy is not solely driven by economic factors but also on the belief they will have an overall benefit to the conservation status of the species involved. This is because the changes are rooted in the concept of conserving the local population rather than protecting individual animals on site.
In summary, the four main changes relate to:
If these changes do take place then JFA are more than equipped to deal them. With our expertise in the fields of landscape architecture and ecology, and our extensive experience in strategic-planning, we can use our professional expertise to design bespoke mitigation to get you through the licensing process.
Natural England are currently holding a six-week consultation which ends on the 7th April 2016 and is open to anyone to comment on the proposed changes to EPS licensing. More details can be found by following this link https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/wildlife-licensing-comment-on-new-policies-for-european-protected-species-licences
More information on JFA’s views on Policy 1 can be found here.
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