All bat species in the U.K. are protected by both U.K. and E.U. law due to the fact that their numbers have significantly declined over the last few decades. This drop in population is due to the loss of roosts, foraging habitat, and commuting flight lines, and due to a significant decrease in the insect population
Why are bats protected?
Bats are of major environmental significance due to being important indicators of how well an ecosystem is doing. They are warm-blooded, suckle their young, and only have one pup a year, which means the population growth can decline dramatically if weather is particularly harsh and the pups are not able to survive. There are 17 breeding species of bat in the UK; all of which rely on insects to feed. A large proportion of bats are caught by cats, around 50% each year, which can also impact the population. Furthermore, there is a lot of negative stigma surrounding bats from the general public, as many developers have to conduct bat surveys due to their high level of conservation protection, which can be fairly costly to the owner.
Bats need an assortment of roosts for various occasions throughout the year. This is because specific roosts have certain micro-climates that bats take advantage of depending on their needs. Tragically, with the clearing of Britain’s forests, bat populaces have endured colossal misfortunes. Along these lines, they have been compelled to adjust to living in artificial structures.
How far does the law secure them?
Bats are viewed as of worldwide significance and are protected by U.K. law. This means that it is an offence to:
- Purposefully or intentionally execute, harm or catch bats.
- Purposely disturb bats in any circumstance.
- Harm, pulverise or block access to bat roosts regardless of whether the roost is being used.
- Have or transport a bat or any piece of a bat except if legitimately obtained.
- Move, bargain or trade bats or any piece of a bat whether alive or dead.
Where do bats roost?
Any long-standing structure which has small gaps that bats can squeeze into – regardless of whether it be a house, farm, shed, garage or workshop – can possibly harbour bats. In case you’re destroying a more established building or going up against significant work, for example, re-roofing or re-cladding, at that point your local planning committee is probably going to need a survey.
In any case, don’t be tricked – bats can venture to contemporary structures as well. This implies that practically any sort of property you might need to change or expand could trigger the requirement for a survey for bats.
What can I do to help?
If you would like more information on what you can do to protect bats visit the Bat Conservation Trust for advice on the small steps you can take to make a big difference.
In addition to surveying buildings which have potential for bats, we also do surveys on open land to survey for bat activity, as construction on a large building on open land and flooding it with security light might impact on important commuting routes (how bats travel to get from their roost to their foraging grounds, migration, etc) or foraging areas.
The first stage with activity surveys is assessing the land’s potential for bat activity. Once that is classified as negligible, low, moderate or high, we survey across the months that bats are active (survey intensity depends on the classification).
The primary stage can be undertaken at any time of year. For building surveys, this includes a site investigation whereby a licensed bat specialist will enter the all of the interior voids (where is safe to do so), upper rooms and storm cellars of the working to scan for proof of bats. The outside of the building is additionally surveyed for potential roost destinations and passages. Bat surveys of trees are mostly done from ground level and a ladder with the guide of binoculars, torches and endoscopes. Surveys essentially centre around evaluating the capability of the tree or building to support bats, and classifying this as negligible, low, moderate or high potential for bats.
The second phase of the bat survey should be conducted when bats possess summer roost destinations, and survey effort is dependent on its classification. For surveys on buildings, this is from May to August, or from May to September for tree surveys. The study includes situating trained surveyors around the building, tree or structure at dusk. Bats usually find a crevice or perch. Bat detectors are used to eavesdrop on bat echolocation and social calls, which are recorded to undergo sound analysis in order to identify which species of bat it is. Our licensed bat specialists are able to undertake all aspects of bat surveys including initial bat scoping surveys, dusk emergence and dawn re-entry activity surveys, transect activity monitoring and remote monitoring. We have many years’ experience in the design and implementation of mitigation strategies for bats. This includes the construction of bespoke bat roosts and bat roost enhancement, as well as applying for European Protected Species licences for bats.
More information about bat surveys can be found in our articles: