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Bats and Planning – What!.

Bats and Planning – What!

Bat Surveys, Emergence Bat Survey

Bats and Planning – What!

The most common of questions we are asked at Cherryfield Ecology is generally why do I need to have a bat survey for planning? Although this is simple to answer, in that, bats are found in human dwellings as their natural habitats have been eroded by development, habitat loss and farming, it creates more questions that understandably the average homeowner or developer will need to know. This article aims to provide you, the planning applicant, with a one-stop shop for the answers you are looking for.

The first enquiry is usually why a bat survey is needed –

Are bats protected?

Yes, all bat species in the UK are fully protected by law. They are an EU protected species, meaning that the protection afforded to them is as high as it gets in the UK. It is an offence for any person or persons to: intentionally kill, injure or take a bat. Under the EU Law (Habitats Reg’s) it is an offence to deliberately capture or kill a bat, therefore any works affecting them or potentially affecting them must be considered in a planning application, permitted development or general building maintenance.

What is a bat survey?

Put simply a bat survey is a means of checking whether the building, structure or tree you are planning to do works to houses or could house bats. For planning purposes there is a three staged process. Stage one is a day – time inspection of the structures to be affected, it can be conducted year round as the licenced bat worker is looking for evidence of bat use or the potential for bats to use the structure when evidence is lacking e.g. small gaps under tiles for instance. The second stage is night time surveys, time limited to between May and September, when bats are fully active it involves surveyors watching the building for bats entering or exiting, counting the number of bats present and establishing species that are present. The third stage is the licensing process. This can only be undertaken post grant of planning (or if no planning consent is removed e.g. permitted development) and the surveys have established the species, population and entry/exit points. A licence is required when a breach of the law cannot be avoided e.g. the building bats are using is being demolished.

Why can full surveys only be conducted in the summer?

This is not because bat workers don’t want to do any work over the winter period! Bats become less active as the weather cools, mating in the autumn period and then hibernating over the coldest months. As many bats mate and hibernate in different places to where they spend their summers and are happily conserving energy by lowering their metabolic rate and not moving around, it would make winter night-time surveys pointless, bats simply aren’t going to be in the structure or if they are they are well hidden. Bat workers are therefore unable to do the night-time surveys.

Been asked for a bat survey? 

Cherryfield Ecology can provide you with planning bat surveys check out our bat survey page here