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Cambridge City Council

Plans revised to safeguard Jesus Green water voles

17 May 2022

Cambridge City Council has revised its proposals to protect the water vole population on the Jesus Green ditch and enhance the available bankside habitat for the population.

As part of its initial planning feasibility work to enhance the bankside habitat of the Jesus Green ditch, the Council commissioned an ecological survey, which identified that the ditch supported a water vole population. With this information, the Council sought specialist water vole ecological advice, which has been used to shape its habitat enhancement plans to ensure they protect and enhance the existing water vole population of the ditch.

Based on the ecological information and advice obtained concerning the ditch’s water vole population, the Council has updated its initial outline enhancement plans to remove those elements of the plans, which represented a risk to the water vole population. This included the proposed mechanical reprofiling of the steep sided ditch banks, as the ecological survey work identified water vole burrows behind the concrete bank walls of the ditch.   

The decision to remove the mechanical groundworks from the plans has enabled the council to withdraw its planning application for the proposed works. The revised proposals will not require planning consent and will include a bank side meadow and planting of native shrub species to benefit the water vole population.

Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Sustainable Food and Community Wellbeing, said: “Our objective is to protect wildlife and enhance the site for water voles by creating a wetland with a higher diversity of aquatic plants for food and cover.

“That is why we have carried out feasibility work and taken careful steps to ensure that we do not do anything that could cause harm.

“The decision to withdraw the planning application, following stakeholder engagement, a public consultation, investigations and surveys, allows us to take stock of our findings and adapt our proposal.

“Our approach is to be knowledge and evidence based and completely focused on enhancing and supporting biodiversity, which is why we are doing all we can to get it right.”