Planning application 20/00379/OUT
The otters that come to Southwick Court moat are probably a female and maybe her last year’s cubs; they will have come to feed, via the Lambrok, from the Biss or even from the Avon. Planning application 20/00379/OUT does not show how the Lambrok is to be bridged without interrupting the otters’ route.
Otters occupy a home range, a well defined area were they feed, rest and breed. Radio tracking studies have shown that a female otter’s typical home range covers an average 20km of waterway and that males’ home range sizes average 32km.
Females and young otters spend most of their time foraging in small streams and lakes like the Lambrok in the park, and the moat at Southwick Court, while males are usually based on the larger rivers. Evidence shows that otters will use even tiny streams and ditches for feeding and as regular commuting routes.
1. Otters crossing a bridge;
2. an aluminium walkway so that otters can avoid crossing the road
Waddeton Park Ltd has applied for permission to build 180 houses in the fields north of Southwick Court. The outline plan shows a long access road, to and from the A361, which will cross the Lambrok and sever the otters’ commuting route.
The plan does not show how the stream is to be bridged. Research has shown that otters prefer not to swim through tunnel-like structures; they are much less inclined to abandon a regular trail if it is bridged in a way which presents them with the options of swimming or walking alongside the watercourse.
It will be important to provide a properly designed culvert or bridge over Lambrok Stream, incorporating mammal ledges so that the otters can continue to commute between the Biss and Southwick Court moat. Fencing both sides of the road will be equally important; faced with the choice of going under or over a bridge, an otter will too often choose to cross the road. Increased roadkill has damaged recent efforts to boost otter numbers in England.
We think that Wiltshire Council should not let this planning application go any further until Waddeton Park Ltd have shown precisely how they plan to mitigate against the damage their access road might inflict on the otters’ habitat and the waterways they use to move around it.