Water voles are fully protected in England. In Scotland, water voles receive partial protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). As such, their places of shelter are protected, while currently the animals themselves are not with the exception of when they are in their burrows. This is likely to change in the future such that this species would receive full protection.
Water vole survey is likely to be required if a potential development site has a watercourse, pond or wetland area that would be affected by proposed works. In addition, in some areas of the Central Belt of Scotland water voles are present within terrestrial habitat, with the east end of Glasgow being a high-profile example.
If works are planned that will affect water vole habitat, then a licence is likely to be required from SNH. Direct Ecology has extensive experience of survey and mitigation design for water voles, and of licensed water vole work, including trapping and translocation of the species. We have undertaken licensed water vole mitigation work on a number of sites in Glasgow as well as with upland water vole populations.