Otters and their resting places are fully protected by the Conservation of Habitats & Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
Implications for Development
Otters could be impacted where development affects watercourses, lakes and other suitable water-bodies, especially if there is a risk of severing their commuting route along the watercourse (e.g. bridging works).
Otters may also be affected by works close to waterways, either by direct impact to nearby terrestrial habitat or indirectly through noise and light disturbance.
Otter surveys are possible throughout the year and usually involve single visit of the watercourse immediately affected by development plus an additional 2km up and down-stream in some cases.
Mitigation & Compensation
A Mitigation Licence is required whenever disturbance of otters or damage to their holts is likely to occur. Destruction of an otter holt / potential holt is only possible when the otters are absent, which may involve use of fencing and cautious clearance of the holt under the supervision of an ecologist. If the holt is used for breeding, then it may be necessary to wait for 10 weeks or more until the cubs are able to leave.
Mitigation may just simply involve a few modifications to site practice and layout, avoidance of night working, excluding construction workers from sensitive areas, and use of fencing to delineate a safe route for otters through the construction site.