Suitable Bat Roosts
Containing a combination of rural and urban sections, Berkshire in the South East is best known as a countryside location bursting with endless greenery, but it is also home to an assortment of built-up areas, with towns and cities by the largest populations including Bracknell, Maidenhead, Newbury, Reading, Slough, Windsor, Wokingham and Windsor.
A total of 17 bat species are present in the UK, and once they have chosen a setting with a climate and selection of roosting opportunities that suit them, they will create roosts for a multitude of purposes. For instance, bats may use barns, houses, garages, sheds, trees or hedgerows as a roost, and an area like Berkshire will offer plenty of options through including all of these features.
Certain animal and plant species are listed as protected within corresponding UK laws. All animals and plants within legislation are safeguarded from harm, with bats appearing as a priority cause for concern due to a reduced amount of sightings in recent times and evidence suggesting that population numbers are dropping every year.
Communities for Bat Conservation
Both qualified ecologists and mindful residents with an interest in wildlife are able to contribute towards the conservation, preservation and protection of bats in their local area by joining bat groups. In Berkshire, the jurisdiction for bat safeguarding falls to the Berks & South Bucks Bat Group, who are given the responsibility of supporting residents that find any injured, sick or orphaned bats.
While the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) manages protection of bats all over the country, the Berks & Bucks Bat Group ensures the safety of bats within the county. Identified species of bat in Berkshire include the barbastelle bat, Bechstein’s bat, Brandt’s bat, common pipistrelle bat and whiskered bat. Pieces of legislation that lawfully prevent harm from coming to bats include the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
More than any other practice, developments are a hazard to bats and could easily disturb bats, particularly as land and property projects can see alteration and destruction to buildings and trees that were being used as habitats by roosting bats. As a method of caution around the likelihood of bats or bat roosts facing harm, bat groups work in partnership with local councils to guarantee that relevant planning requirements are met and developers arrange a bat survey as proof that no bats will be harmed by their actions, helping planning applications as a positive side effect.
Surveys on Bat Occupancy
The need for a bat survey will be determined following one of two processes. Either bats or evidence of bats will be identified during a prior Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey or the developer’s observations of the site will point towards a bat presence and the necessity for bat surveys. Stage one in the bat survey process will be what is known as a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA), allowing an ecologist to look over the site and all present properties for bats, bat roosts, carcasses, droppings, prey remains and any other indications of occupancy.
As well as buildings on the development site, the ecologists will also inspect trees and other potential roosting locations. After the assessment, a bat report will be assembled, featuring all outcomes and observations from the assessment. It will also include a recommendation to the planning department of the local council for planning permission if they can categorically deny bat presence, or advice to perform further surveys if bats are or may potentially be present.
In terms of further bat surveys, the second survey in the process will be a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS) – an assessment consisting of several visits to the site by multiple ecological consultants at dusk and dawn between the summer months of May and September. Over the course of bat activity surveys, the aim will be to watch assumed entry and exit points, utilise advanced equipment to confirm bat roosting locations, gauge population sizes and determine types of species based on echolocation calls / bat calls.
Following both bat surveys, a report will be drafted up by the ecological surveyor to pass on data from the assessment to the local authorities. As the secondary survey will provide them with more information about the presence of bats on the site, the ecological consultant will be able to create mitigation measures such as installing bat boxes that will allow the planning project to progress, and as a result, the developer should see no problem in achieving planning consent from the local planning authority. It will also reference the need for other assessments as necessary, such as further protected species surveys if other protected animal species are found.
Reach Out For a Quote
Every member of our team possesses sufficient training and licensing, along with the qualifications and experience to operate within the planning system and conduct bat surveys to the necessary standard from the perspective of the local authority. If you need a European protected species licence (EPSL) to relocate a bat or destroy a bat roost, for instance, our team can also assist you in finding success in the application process to Natural England for various protected species licences.
All you need to do is contact us, and using details of your site and project, we will send across a free quote for your bat surveys. Providing you are happy to move forwards, we can then work out a suitable time to carry out the bat survey. With our help supporting your development plans, you will receive tangible evidence that will remove unwanted issues and guarantee a granted planning application from the local planning authorities.