Bats and their roosts are fully protected by the Conservation of Habitats & Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
Implications for Development
A development that may impact trees, buildings, bridges or underground structures should be assessed for roosting bat suitability. A daytime assessment by a bat-licensed ecologist will assess whether further surveys are needed. If no suitable roosting features are identified, then no further surveys or mitigation are required. However, where suitable roosting features have been identified or roosts have been confirmed, emergence / re-entry surveys may be necessary to establish if roosting bats will be impacted.
Bat activity surveys may be required where hedges, woodland, rough grassland and watercourses are present on a site. This type of survey aims to assess habitat usage by foraging and commuting bats.
Preliminary Bat Roost Assessments, or Phase 1 Bat Surveys, are possible throughout the year. Structures with hibernation potential may require a second inspection between December and February. Bat emergence / re-entry surveys are possible between May and August (September is sub-optimal). Bat activity surveys are possible between April and October and may require monthly or seasonal visits. Our ecologists often use an endoscope to inspect cavities for the roost assessments, and specialist bat detectors for the other types of survey.
Mitigation & Compensation
A Mitigation Licence from Natural England is required before there are any impacts to bats and their roosts. Bat foraging and commuting habitat is not legally protected but is a material consideration in the planning process. Habitat features used by foraging / commuting bats may need to be retained and protected, or replaced where lost. An appropriate lighting strategy may also need to be designed.