Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 all species of bats receive full protection such that it is an offence, amongst other things to: i) deliberately capture, kill or injure any bat; ii) damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place used by bats (whether bats are in it at the time or not); iii) deliberately disturb bats in a way that is likely to impair their ability to migrate, hibernate, survive or reproduce, or in a way that is likely to affect significantly their local distribution or abundance; iv) intentionally or recklessly disturb bats while occupying a place of shelter or protection, or attempt to do so; v) intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to any place of shelter or protection, or attempt to do so.
Essex supports 12 species of bat out of a total of 17 native to Britain, all of which are protected by law. Buildings and trees anywhere can provide suitable roosting opportunities for bats and so when a scheme involves the demolition or conversion of an existing building, or the felling or management of trees, a detailed bat survey may be necessary.
This is likely to start with a daytime inspection to search for any evidence of bat activity (droppings, tell-tale staining or scratch marks, and bats themselves) and to assess the suitability of the site’s features to roosting bats. This can be done at any time of the year, although evidence will be easier to find from spring to autumn when bats are active.
If evidence is found or there is judged to be potential then post-sunset or pre-dawn surveys with bat detectors and recording equipment will be necessary to identify the species involved and monitor the level of activity. These are usually carried out between May and August to coincide with the main period of bat activity.
At this stage, we are usually able to plan a scheme of mitigation, which is likely to involve a licence from Natural England, may require the schedule for the scheme to be altered, and may require alterations to the site plans. Mitigation work may involve the retention of the roost, creation of alternative and equivalent roosting opportunities, the exclusion of bats from a roost, or the supervised dismantling of suitable features (in a tree or on a building).
All of our survey and mitigation work follows best practice guidance produced by the Bat Conservation Trust and Natural England. In this way we can maximise the chances of planning consent, and any necessary licence, being obtained.
If you require a quote please send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org including a brief description of what is proposed, timescales, site plans and any correspondence received from the Local Planning Authority. Alternatively you can contact us in the office on 01621 862986. We can carry out bat surveys in Essex and surrounding counties, including Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent and London.