Otters: licences for development

Developers can apply for a licence to allow proposed development works that might affect otters to proceed legally.

NatureScot is responsible for issuing licences to permit actions related to development that might affect otters. You should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to otters.

A licence can only be granted if you can meet the three strict European protected species licensing tests.

How to apply

A protected species licence application for development projects should not be made until the necessary planning permissions and consents are in place.  This should be considered when signing the relevant licence application declaration.

Fill in the application form and email it to [email protected].

Download the Licence application form – works affecting otters

Read the Guidance notes for application for a licence for European protected species

Read the Guidance notes on providing supporting information for a licence for European protected species

Survey and mitigation

We strongly recommend that a suitably experienced person conducts an otter survey if otters are likely to be present on or near a development site. For example, otters may use a watercourse where riverbank housing is proposed.

Planning authorities must consider the same strict tests as the licensing authority when considering any planning application that might affect otters. A survey carried out in line with best practice and at an early stage can help to avoid unnecessary delays to licence and planning applications.

A species protection plan should be drawn up if otters or holts, couches or other places of shelter are found on or near a development site.

Licence returns

A condition of any licence is that you must submit a licence return to us.

You should submit your return information using our licence return form for works affecting otters. Email us your completed form, giving your name and licence number in the subject line.

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team
Telephone: 01463 725 364
Email: [email protected]

Find out more

Data Protection notice

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