CSA’s Worcestershire Ecology team have recently completed the implementation of a successful water vole mitigation strategy at a residential development site in Bridgwater, working on behalf of Taylor Wimpey Bristol.
The development proposals necessitated the removal of an existing rhyne within the site where CSA’s ecologists had identified a low density water vole population. A comprehensive mitigation strategy was designed in close consultation with Taylor Wimpey’s engineers and landscape architects to compensate for this habitat loss through the provision of a new leat feature on-site, specifically designed to provide optimal water vole habitat and to result in a net gain in available habitat for this species post-development.
Working with species expert Mike Dean, these measures were secured through a licence obtained from Natural England, which included the requirement for sensitive destructive search methods and the temporary displacement of water voles into retained off-site rhynes within adjacent land. Post-development monitoring between 2019 and 2022 has been undertaken and found that water voles quickly colonised the new leat within three years of it being created and are now present at a greater density than prior to development works commencing. The population is also expanding within connected off-site watercourses as a result.
A successful result all around for the water vole population, showing that with careful design and implementation, positive results for protected species can be achieved alongside development.