Adequate Habitat for Various Species
Mostly rural, the county of Cheshire in North West England has a scattering of towns and villages across a continuous countryside landscape. Through a traditional focus on agricultural processes and practices, much of Cheshire is arable and pasture land designed for growing crops and housing livestock. It does also, however, contain a vast sum of built-up areas, such as Chester, Ellesmere Port, Winsford, Crewe, Macclesfield, Congleton and Wilmslow.
The combination of retained authentic, natural areas and fresh developed, man-made locations makes for a viable place for a variety of protected species to inhabit. A common category of wildlife that appears throughout the UK is bats, and they will typically choose where they occupy based on the local climate and habitat suitability. Bat roosts can be created within natural or man-made structures, making somewhere like Cheshire with a mix of both an ideal destination.
Recent records indicate that 17 species of bat are present in the UK, and each species will decide whether or not a location will be feasible based on a number of factors. Legislation was brought in to prevent unnecessary harm coming to bats or bat roosts, with it only becoming more crucial to have such barriers and restrictions as the population, sightings and circulation of bats in the country has seen a significant yet gradual decrease in recent times.
Driving Attention Towards Bats
Community groups situated all over the country ensure that bats are given the required level of protection from disruption and harm. They also perform promotional work and home visits to provide local residents with insight into bats and bat activity. In the case of Cheshire, the conservation and preservation of bat populations is overseen by the Cheshire Bat Group (CBG), and due to the reoccurring clash between bats and development plans, the role of the group when it comes to potentially damaging planning projects is listed several times as a primary concern.
While the Cheshire Bat Group is applicable to the county specifically, the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) applies to all bats across the country. Both possess the powers to contribute to the local council’s conditions that will eventually decide whether or not planning consent can be granted. For developers, the way through this would be by instructing an ecological consultant to conduct a bat survey on the development site.
Cheshire is home to a wide range of bats, such as the Brandt’s bat, brown long-eared bat, common pipistrelle bat, noctule bat, Daubenton’s bat, Leisler’s bat, Natterer’s bat, soprano pipistrelle bat, serotine bat and whiskered bat. Alongside other listed protected species, bats are shielded from danger by certain legislation, such as the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
By assembling bat groups and initiating laws, it was possible to increase the level of protection around bats, especially any time a land or property development has the potential to endanger them. Any development works that could put bats or bat roosts in danger will be subject to scrutiny from the local authorities, and it will be inevitable that certain ecological services are needed before a planning application will be considered.
Inspection of Present Roosts
A preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) or ecological impact assessment (EcIA) will trigger the requirement for bat surveys. That said, if the site has telltale signs of hibernating bats or roosting bats, a bat survey may come about following general observations from anyone involved in the planning project. From that point, a preliminary roost assessment (PRA) will be staged as phase one of the bat survey process.
In a PRA, the entirety of the development site will be analysed at length, looking for evidence of bats, such as bat roosts, bat droppings, bat carcasses, prey and potential roost features. A bat roost can appear in almost any location, so it is crucial that a PRA is thorough. If the ecological surveyor has been able to confirm the likely absence of bats, it will be reflected in the bat report and a recommendation to approve planning applications can be provided.
Whenever bats, roost sites or roosting opportunities are identified, further surveys will be mandatory before an application for planning consent is deemed viable. The second phase of bat surveys is known as a bat emergence and re-entry survey (BERS) but has also been called bat activity surveys or dusk entry and dawn re-entry surveys. Unlike a preliminary roost assessment, a bat activity survey can only be undertaken at certain times and within a specific time of year.
For a bat emergence survey to be undertaken correctly, it must be held outside of winter months and solely within summer months, ideally starting in late spring and ending in late summer between May and September. A handful of ecological consultants will attend the site a few times during this period and monitor entry and exit points using bat detectors and other equipment. The data retrieved will uncover how the site is used by bats and point the bat ecologists towards present population numbers and bat species.
Both the first stage and the second stage of bat surveys will conclude with the ecologist putting together a report to detail their findings. The outcome of the survey work will be explained at length, with mitigation measures that will allow development projects to continue, even with bats present. It may even suggest other protected species surveys on the site if, for example, great crested newts or other priority species are found. Providing every requirement of the ecological surveyor and the local authority has been met, the bat survey report should conclude with assurances that planning permission can be granted.
Call In Our Team
At any point that a Cheshire bat survey or similar assessment in another part of North West England is needed, our local team has the ability to undertake the survey work utilising any relevant skills as necessary, including tree climbing and aerial inspections. Our knowledge of the latest updates from corresponding organisations and regulators such as Natural England also enables us to cater to bats and the surrounding habitat in line with current laws and restrictions.
If you need help booking bat surveys on your development site or assistance choosing the preliminary roost assessments or bat emergence surveys as applicable, fill out our online quote form, speak to us on the phone or get in touch using our contact page. We can then send you a free quote for the ecological services you need, and on the day of the inspection, our bat surveyors will execute the bat survey, look over each potential resting place on your site, and give you all the information you need about the present protected species to find success in your aim of obtaining planning.