There are 17 species of bat breeding within the UK.
All of these species are protected by law and it is for this reason that they for a crucial part of the planning process.
Like many animal species in the UK, bats are variable in their activity throughout the year. Bats are most active during the late spring and the summer months, between May and August, with dwindling levels of activity towards the end of September. It is due to this, that all Bat Surveys must be carried out in this period.
As the transition in autumn begins in September, bats will begin to disperse from their summer roosts and return to their usual hibernation site. They do this via a process known as swarming which is part of their mating process. During this time male and female bats will fly in large groups of up to thousands of bats in order to mate and subsequently hibernate.
From the end of September no bat surveys can be carried out, this is however, the perfect time to carry out any Preliminary Roost Assessments you may require. These can be carried out all year round, however, between the months of October and April are excellent as they will be able to indicate if you will need any Bat Surveys in the following season.
All bat species and their roosts in the UK are protected under European and UK law. The main piece of legislation protecting UK bats is The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) (better known as the Habitats Regulations). In addition to this, bats and their roosts are also protected in England and Wales under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (as amended). Under these pieces of legislation, it is an offence to:
If there is a possibility that bats could be present, your local authority should consult with Natural England as a part of the planning process. An assessment which includes a Preliminary Roost Assessment will be needed if bats are likely to be affected. Planning authorities will assess each application to ascertain the most appropriate approach. This may be done in the form of conditional permission to safeguard habitats and their associated protected species.
Such conditions may dictate certain aspects of the development itself, such as the timing and management of development, or the requirement of a European Protected Species Licence to be obtained before work can commence.
If conditions are not attached to the planning permission, the law still applies to the development. It is for this reason that property developers must take every effort to safeguard bats, their roosts and their foraging habitats. If amendments are being made to a bat’s roost or the area in which they forage, suitable mitigation should be put into action.
For this reason it is best to get surveys done early in the planning process to save both time and money as the project develops.
This survey is the first step in identifying if there are bats using your property or land. These surveys will include a licensed bat ecologist undertaking an initial site visit, whether that be a property or trees, and performing a series of inspections. A Preliminary Roost Assessmentwill involve two elements that tend to be carried out at the same time.
The first is an external inspection of the location to assess any possible features that bats could be roosting in or birds could be nesting in. This will require searching for any evidence that may indicate their presence such as staining or droppings.
The second part is an internal inspection of the location, this is more applicable to property based surveys. This will involve the surveyor entering the property and doing a thorough search of any roof walls or accessible cavities to locate any bats or evidence of their presence.
Following the survey, the surveyor will then be able to indicate the likelihood of bats using the area and for what purpose. In addition to this, if bat droppings are found on site they can be collected and sent away for DNA analysis to confirm what species of bat have been there.
These surveys can be carried out at all times of the year including the winter period.
Bat Activity Surveys are surveys that will be required if it is suspected that bats could be using a location. These involve a team of surveyors coming to the site and carrying out a series of surveys at different times, either dusk (emergence surveys) or dawn (re-entry surveys), to investigate how bats are behaving in the local area.
The number of surveys required will depend upon the finding of the Preliminary Roost Assessment, the project’s requirements and the size of the site to be surveyed.
These surveys must be carried out between the 1st May and the 30th September as this is when UK bat species are most active.
Our experienced team will guide you through the process from estimate to planning approval.