Water Voles

Water voles occupy networks of burrows along vegetated banks for freshwater water courses and lakes. The entrances to these burrows can be identified by the presence of “lawns”, distinctive areas of short grazed grass surrounding the hole.

Although they do not hibernate, water voles are unlikely to be seen over winter as activity levels are reduced and the majority of time is spent feeding in the burrows. Therefore above ground vegetation clearance works are unlikely to disturb hidden water voles. More extensive works to water courses have greater potential to impact water voles and will require a consultation with an experienced ecologist to discuss mitigation measures.

  • If works are likely to affect freshwater courses, preliminary checks for water voles must be conducted e.g. local record searches and field sign presence surveys performed by an ecologist.
  • Works which cannot avoid disturbing or harming water voles, or destroying their burrows, will require a mitigation licence from Natural England. 
  • Although they are less active during winter, operatives should always be made aware that water voles may be present on or near the water courses, and be advised on the steps to take if one is found.