What should you do?

A water vole survey should be carried out prior to any development which has the potential to disturb water voles or affect their habitats in any way.

Contact us for advice and guidance on the best course of action for your project.

Water Vole (Arvicola terrestris)

The water vole is the largest of the British voles. Water voles have a short hair-covered tail, a blunt rounded nose, and a small chubby face with small ears. They have a chestnut brown coat which traps air and provides insulation when swimming. Water voles are herbivores and eat a variety of waterside vegetation; eating 80 percent of their own body weight every day.
During the breeding season the boundaries of each females range are marked with a latrine, usually a pile or piles of flattened droppings where scent marking occurs. A female will have between 1 and 5 litters of pups between April and September.

Where do water voles live?

Water voles can be found throughout Britain but they are found mostly to lowland areas close to water. They live in burrows with an underground entrance which provides a safe entrance to the water. The burrow system will usually have several horizontal layers to prevent flooding. The above ground entrance sometimes has a lawn of grass around the hole which has been eaten by the water vole.

The water vole was once a very familiar mammal of the British countryside. Survey data suggests that the species has undergone one of the steepest and most serious declines of any British mammal. A national survey carried out between 1996 and 1998 showed that water voles had been lost from ninety four percent of sites. Some of the main causes of this are:
• Loss and fragmentation of waterside habitats due to riverbank modification, drainage and flood defence works
• Disturbance of riparian habitats
• Predation by mink which can hunt water vole in the water, on land and even in the burrow sysytem
• Pollution of watercourses and poisoning by rodenticides


Case Studies

Phase 2a for High Speed 2 (HS2)

December 2016
Site: Phase 2a for High Speed 2 (HS2) - from the West Midlands to Crewe Client: Biocensus c/o Arup ##Project overview In spring 2016 UES were subcontracted ... more...

Phase 1 Habitat Survey in Winchester

November 2011
UES recently completed an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey of an old mill in Winchester. An Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey involves mapping the habitats on the ... more...

Extended phase 1 habitat survey in Deeside

August 2011
UES have completed an extended phase 1 habitat survey of a site in Deeside, North Wales in order to inform the client of any potential impacts their development... more...

Water vole survey in Tarbock, Liverpool

May 2011
Tarbock Hall is a 86 hectare parcel of land west of Liverpool on which developers intend to restore the dilapidated farm buildings as luxury houses, and also cr... more...

Great crested newt trapping scheme

November 2010
Project summary In 2008/09, UES were instructed to conduct a Great Crested Newt (GCN) mitigation scheme for Augean PLC at Slipe Clay pits in King’s Cliffe, n... more...

Breeam Habitat Survey in Birmingham

November 2010
UES were commissioned to provide an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey of o high rise office complex near Edgbaston in Birmingham. The Survey is to provide informa... more...

Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey Flintshire

May 2010
United Environmental Services have completed an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey of a site near the town of Flint in North Wales. The site has been a dis-used br... more...

Major Pipeline Survey

January 2010
UES were commissioned by a Northwest based utilities company to carry out survey work for a major pipeline in the north west of England. ##Planning The propo... more...

Tarbock Hall Golf Course

January 2010
Tarbock Hall is a 86 hectare parcel of land west of Liverpool. The land was used for agriculture until 2000 when it was sold to a team of developers who wanted ... more...

Water Vole Assessment

January 2010
##Overview UES were appointed by Gundy Excavations to carry out a series of Water Vole surveys in the Tarbock Green area of Merseyside. UES conducted an ‘Envi... more...