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 our elusive and nocturnal native crayfish from the widespread and abundant 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. If present, our licensed staff can handle crayfish and proceed with specific survey requirements, as well as conduct necessary works under a mitigation scheme.
We can help gain the appropriate licences and provide the protection and compensation plans needed to satisfy statutory and legal obligations required for the development to proceed.
Our specialists at OpenSpace can advise further, please contact us on 01228 711841 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.