The UK’s only native crayfish is rapidly disappearing from our river catchments. The decline is caused mainly by a fungal disease – the ‘crayfish plague’, spread by the introduced American signal crayfish. Exposure to the plague can wipe out entire populations in a matter of weeks.
White clawed crayfish are fully protected under UK and European legislation. It is illegal to take white clawed crayfish and their presence allows areas to be designated as Special Areas of Conservation.
The species is highly susceptible to certain pesticides and pollution and is slow to breed and colonise new areas. Impacted populations may never recover. Flood defense, siltation, dredging, hydro-schemes, bridge repair, pipeline crossings, and any general construction all have potential to affect white clawed crayfish.
It is crucial that any preliminary survey work is able to distinguish the elusive and nocturnal native crayfish from the widespread and abundant invasive signal crayfish and other non-native species now present in the UK.
OpenSpace have this expertise and can conduct surveys to indicate presence / likely absence of this species. If present, specialist licences are required to handle crayfish, proceed with specific survey requirements and conduct necessary works under a mitigation scheme.
OpenSpace has the appropriate licences required for full survey works for white clawed crayfish. Furthermore, if needed we can help gain a mitigation licence and provide the protection and compensation plans needed to satisfy statutory and legal obligations required for your development to proceed.
Mitigation can involve habitat creation/enhancement, such as adding appropriate vegetation, implementing an exclusion zone for works site, and translocation (but only within catchment to reduce likelihood of disease spreading).
One of our specialists at OpenSpace can advise further. Please contact us on 01228 711841 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.