Residents’ bid to save Olly the otter

The Action 4 Safe Access Market Weighton group has footage of Olly in the town's beck.
The Action 4 Safe Access Market Weighton group has footage of Olly in the town's beck.

A group of Market Weighton residents have locked horns with a housing developer as they try to save the habitat of a much-loved otter called Olly.

The residents, who have joined together to form ‘Action 4 Safe Access Market Weighton (A4SAMW), said they are outraged over plans to build a two-way road from the new Taylor Wimpey Foxley Meadow development site over the town’s beck, which has been proved to house at least one otter.

The concerned group members contacted the Environment Agency and Natural England after the otter was spotted in the beck.

The beck, which runs alongside the empty Montracon warehouse, is adjacent to the building site where houses are being built. Although the homes cause no concern for the otter’s well-being, the road planned over the beck could have severe consequences for Olly, according to the group.

The A4SAMW is hoping that Taylor Wimpey will move the access road into a more favourable location.

Ellen van der Kroon, resident and member of A4SAMW said: “There are two other possible routes to take new residents off the housing development site which would not disturb the otter’s habitat, both of which have been put to Taylor Wimpey.

“However, both would incur additional costs to the developers and this appears to be of more importance to them than protecting species such as otters and other endangered animals.

“We are worried that there is more than one otter and, in fact, this is a mating pair that are making their home ready for a new arrival of cubs.”

The group said it has video footage of the female otter disappearing into a hole or ‘holt’ in the riverbank.

Holts usually have two or three entrances in case they flood with at least one of the holes being above the river bed.

A spokesperson from Taylor Wimpey Yorkshire said: “We take all concerns very seriously and would like to assure the community that all work we’re doing is in accordance with our Construction Environment Management Plan and Biodiversity Plan.

“Unfortunately, there are no appropriate alternate routes for the new development.

“Access was explored at length during the planning stage and the two routes that are currently being worked on were the only two deemed appropriate.

“We can clarify that no licence is needed for the work we’re carrying out on the development and while we are aware of otters in the vicinity, they are not residing on the land in question.

“There are some sections of the body of water that require some work.

“However, most of this will be maintained as open water under the guidance of an ecologist to minimise disruption.”