Bats & the Law
In total there are 17 native species of bat in the UK. All individual bats and their resting places are legally protected under Regulation 41 of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or handle a bat, to possess a bat (whether live or dead), disturb a roosting bat, or sell or offer a bat for sale without a licence. It is also an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place used by bats for shelter, whether they are present or not. Because of the significance of bats within relevant planning policy and legislation, it is important to take steps as early as possible to assess your site's potential for supporting bats.
An initial bat survey is undertaken during the Phase I survey and determines if there are any potential roosting features on your site. Bats commonly roost in buildings and trees. Any buildings or trees that may be impacted by works are assessed internally and externally for evidence of bats and potential roosting features (PRFs).
Typical features on buildings may include:
- broken or loose roofing tiles
- hanging tiles
- gaps in the soffit or fascia
- other access into a loft space
Both buildings and trees are classified as either having negligible, low, moderate or high potential to support roosting bats. If they are considered negligible, no further survey effort will be required. If there is low, moderate or high potential either one, two or three Phase II Emergence/Re-entry surveys will be required respectively. Similarly if signs of bats, or bats themselves, are found this will result in the building/tree being classified as a known roost, meaning three Phase II surveys will be required.
Phase II emergence / re-entry surveys
As outlined above, the level of survey effort will depend on the particular site. However to satisfy the Local Planning Authority we must work within the recommendations of the Bat Conservation Trust Good Practice Survey Guidelines 3rd Edition (2016).
Phase II surveys must be undertaken during the active survey season (May - September) and spaced out by at least two weeks. If a structure has high potential or a confirmed roost, two of the three surveys must be carried out by the end of August.
It is best to consider the timing during planning and contact us as early as possible to avoid any delays.
After carrying out an appropriate bat survey or assessment, if it is established that a bat roost is present within a building or tree a Natural England European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) will be required before the roost can be lawfully destroyed or in some cases disturbed.
We always liaise with the clients at this stage to ensure that the mitigation requirements of the licence will be achievable, ensuring they are fully aware of all aspects as the project progresses.
Phase II activity surveys
If a large development (i.e. wind farms, large housing developments, infrastructure) will result in the disturbance of > 1 ha of suitable habitat, activity bat surveys will be required to establish any important commuting routes or foraging areas used by bats. We can work with the client to deliver mitigation and compensation measures that would lessen impacts upon these important areas.
These surveys are proportionate to the quality of habitat on site and within the immediate vicinity. This will be determined during the Phase I survey.
We have a number of licensed and experienced bat workers who have gained considerable expertise in survey, assessment and evaluation of bat roosts and planning and implementing a scheme of activity surveys. Ecosupport has obtained numerous European Protected Species licences over recent seasons and pride ourselves on delivering these to budget.