Greenfields, 64 Tone Hill, Tonedale, Wellington, Somerset, TA21 0AY 01823 299066

Otter Surveys

The inquisitive, playful Otter (Lutra lutra)* is one of Britain’s best known and loved wild animals; protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended).

HalpinRobbins have experienced ecologists capable of conducting Otter surveys** tailored to meet our clients' needs and project requirements.

Otter surveys can be undertaken as "stand alone" surveys, part of Preliminary Ecological Appraisals or as part of Ecological and Environmental Impact Assessments and the requirement to undertake an Otter survey is usually determined during a Phase 1 Survey. However if a site or project contains rivers, stream, canals, lakes, ponds or other water features or is adjacent to such features it can be considered likely that an Otter survey will be required in some form.

Each survey will usually comprise a habitat suitability assessment and an active search; the latter comprising a site walkover to find field signs of Otter activity, such as facaes, holts, slides, footprints, and rest points. Any field signs are mapped to show where the Otters are active and what significance each field sign has on a site and the surrounding area.

The map, with the determined field sign significance, is then compared with any plans and proposals to determine the risk or impact to both the Otters and the proposed works or project. These results are then be used to inform land purchase, development and project works and schedules, impact assessments and to determine if further detailed Otter surveys and appropriate wildlife mitigation licences are required.

Otter are active all year round which enables Otter surveys to be undertaken at any time of the year. Generally, as Water voles (Arvicola amphibius) and Otters are known to occupy similar habitats it is common that if a project requires one survey it will require the other, therefore these surveys are often combined and conducted between March and August (inclusive), where possible, to save our clients time and money.

For a better idea about our projects and work involving Otters see our case studies or contact us to discuss your project.

Otter and Water Vole habitat

* The European otter can be found in both inland and coast wetland habitats including rivers, streams, marshes, lakes and ditches with their home ranges incorporating a variety of habitats. Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 it is an offence to kill, injure or disturb an Otter and to destroy any place it uses for rest or shelter. Should any works require disturbing a holt or lay up site then a wildlife licence application must be submitted to the relevant governing body (such as Natural England, Natural Resource Wales or Scottish Natural Heritage) with appropriate mitigation and reasoning.

** Otters are European Protected Species, therefore Otter surveys should be undertaken by a qualified and wildlife licenced capable individual.

More useful information can be found on the Mammal Society website.


Our staff maintain and enhance their knowledge of ecology and the environment through research, specialist training and by maintaining membership of several professional and specialist bodies including:

Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
Royal Entomological Society
British Ecological Society

If you wish to find out more about permitting, ecology services or to discuss a project or development please contact us directly for a free, non-committal discussion.

"Nothing is too much trouble and the two way communication is second to none. I would not hesitate to recommend HalpinRobbins to anyone and we wouldn’t even contemplate going anywhere else."

Samantha Southam - Managing Director

Falcon Rural Housing Limited

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