Police called over work at voles’ riverside home

DISTURBED The new wall being built where water voles are nesting
DISTURBED The new wall being built where water voles are nesting
Mark Smith leads a group from the Gosport Labour Party as they stage a protest outside Gosport War Memorial Hospital highlighting the need for an A&E department

Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (180190-1)

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NO water voles were harmed during the course of a revamp of Havant town centre.

That’s the message from Havant Borough Council after fears were raised that the animals’ habitat was being destroyed in Bosmere Pond, across the road from Tesco.

A water vole

A water vole

But one resident had been so worried she called the police.

The woman, who lives in Langstone and did not want to be named, told The News: ‘The kids were upset because they thought the water voles were in there and were having concrete poured on top of them.

‘They are lovely creatures and have a right to live.’

Susan Duffy, 62, of Juniper Square, Havant said: ‘It’s quite upsetting especially when they start with the machines.’

Natural England needs to issue a licence for scientific or educational work around water voles.

But a licence is not generally needed for activities that involve improving waterways.

PC Lynn Owen, part of the Countrywatch team, said: ‘I am investigating this, I have been to visit the site, and spoken to people involved, including Caroway and the council. I have also spoken to Natural England.

‘I am happy that no offences have been committed and that the work is being done, with full knowledge and consideration of the water voles.’

Cllr David Collins, who oversees environment, said: ‘The council is overseeing the work being carried out by Caroway in Park Road South with Portsmouth Water’s permission.

‘We are aware of the water voles and the retaining wall currently under construction has been designed to avoid the need to excavate down to water level to avoid disturbing them in their natural habitat.

‘The council will continue to monitor the works and can confirm that the water voles have not been disturbed.’

Water voles are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to recklessly disturb their breeding or resting places.

The council, which is overseeing the installation of new railings, has now confirmed the voles were undisturbed.