In the late 1970’s the otter was nearly extinct in England. The banning of certain organochlorine pesticides has resulted in improved water quality and more fish in our rivers and the UK’s otter population is now on the rise.

The otter is strictly protected under domestic law and as a European Protected Species (EPS). It is illegal to capture, injure or kill an otter, disturb an otter in a place of rest and it is illegal to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place.

This legal protection does not intend to prevent all activity in areas used by otters but does require that due attention is paid to this species and that places used for breeding, shelter and protection are safeguarded. Otter surveys are often required at the planning stages of any development close to a watercourse, or as part of an application to the Environment Agency / SEPA for flood defense consent or the installation of a hydro scheme.

Our team at OpenSpace have a wealth of experience in conducting survey work for otters. Starting with an initial walkover survey to identify any suitable habitat. If there is potential then the surveyor will often enter the water and search the riverbanks to find field signs and establish presence / absence of any holts or couches. This thorough survey enables us to identify the level of impact and provide proportionate mitigation to satisfy any statutory consultation.

In some cases, where otter may be present and impacts are likely there may be a requirements for further monitoring work to fully assess use of the site and provide satisfactory mitigation.

Where proposals are likely to result in an offence then we can provide a straightforward but effective mitigation plan necessary to gain an EPSM licence, which allows works to proceed following mitigation.

Mitigation can include habitat enhancement / creation, such as installing an artificial otter holt, or implementing a protection/buffer zone or exclusion fencing.

If you have any queries regarding otter surveys, then call us on 01228 711841 or email Our team of specialists will be happy to help.

Updated April 2017