Wildlife legislation introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 gave full protection to otters. This, accompanied by improvements in water quality has resulted in populations making a steady recovery since the early 1980s.
The water vole received limited legal protection in April 1998 through its inclusion in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 for some offences. The protection has been recently extended in April 2008 so the water vole is now fully protected under Section 9.
Surveying for otters and water voles involves an initial walkover survey of the site to assess for potential habitat to support these species and to look for signs of usage, which might include droppings, latrines, burrows, feeding signs and footprints. If evidence is found during this initial assessment, a more detailed survey may be required to establish just how the site is utilised.