Opportunities for Wildlife
Notable for several of England’s largest lakes and tallest mountains, the county of Cumbria in North West England has a distinct majority of rural over urban areas. Despite being the third largest county in England by size, it is the eighth smallest by population, meaning that none of the built-up areas with the highest population such as Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness, Kendal, Whitehaven and Workington exceeds the 80,000 mark.
Alongside the clear window of possibility for development, an area as authentic as Cumbria will also be susceptible to the occupancy of countless wildlife species. Both natural and man-made features are utilised as habitats for the multitude of bats present throughout the country. As a result, a county that caters to both developed and undeveloped patches of land such as you will find in Cumbria will only give bats and similar creatures the facilities they require for roosting.
Every part of the UK has the potential to be recognised as a suitable roosting location for any of the 17 species of bat with proven populations somewhere in the country. For a long time now, the recorded sightings and registered numbers of bats have continued to nosedive, causing panic from conservation groups and environmental organisations. A reaction has come from the creation of government legislation with the power to provide further protection for bats and other threatened species.
Ensuring Bat Safety
For Cumbria specifically, local bats are offered protection from the Cumberland Bat Group. Most of the bats in the county are situated in North Cumbria and West Cumbria, leading the group to focus their attention on those areas. Due to the relationship between planning and protected species such as bats, the group commonly reference the importance of their work when it comes to proposed developments in the county.
A selection of criteria is used before an application for planning consent will be granted, and that includes any rare or valuable ecological features on the site. The Cumberland Bat Group supports local bats while the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) supports bats around the country, and with the input of both parties, the local authorities insist upon the utilisation of a bat survey managed by an ecological consultant before a planning application can realistically be taken seriously.
Out of the total species in the UK, bats in Cumbria include the Brandt’s bat, brown long-eared bat, common pipistrelle bat, Daubenton’s bat, Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat, Natterer’s bat, noctule bat, soprano pipistrelle bat and whiskered bat. All of these bats and other protected species are safeguarded by several pieces of active 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.
Protective groups and laws limit the potential destruction that developers could knowingly or unknowingly cause. With that in mind, it is inevitable that planning projects will require any number of ecological services before the local planning authority will be satisfied. By arranging the necessary bat surveys and other such services, any chance of breaking the law can be ruled out and developers can find success in applications for planning permission.
Analysing a Potential Roost Site
At any point that observations of the site or ecological surveys uncover a protected species, the next step would be to follow through with the necessary badger surveys, barn owl surveys, breeding bird surveys, otter surveys, reptile surveys or assessments for great crested newts. It is the same with bat surveys, and the first step in the process would be to facilitate a preliminary roost assessment (PRA) or extended phase 1 habitat survey.
The primary intent of a PRA is to find any evidence that points towards any likelihood of bats on the site of the proposed development. If nothing indicates that bats are in the local vicinity, the ecological consultant in charge of the bat survey will confirm this in the accompanying report and recommend that planning consent be granted. Alternatively, however, the ecologist will not be able to categorically deny bat occupancy and further surveys will be arranged.
A secondary assessment of bats is known as a bat emergence and re-entry survey (BERS), but it has also been known to be called dusk entry and dawn re-entry surveys or bat activity surveys. Unlike a PRA, more than one ecological surveyor will be needed for bat emergence surveys and they require multiple visits, but only between the months of May and September. At this point, bat detectors are used at suspected entry and exit points to determine bat species and calculate population numbers.
After any and all ecology surveys, a report will be created to display evidence from the assessment to the local planning authority and inform planning applications. All mitigation measures that are crucial to the safety of bats on the site and the continuation of the planning project will feature within the bat report, as well as any recommendations for further inspections to meet the criteria of the local authorities. It should then be acknowledged as sufficient for the local council to accept the application for planning permission.
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Following years of organising ecological consultancy services for developers up and down the country, our team has proven itself as worthy of helping your development plans with comprehensive bat surveys and reports. The flexible approach we take gives us the opportunity to cater to the Lake District, other parts of Cumbria, and further reaching areas within North West England. We also possess the extensive experience needed to assist with Natural England licence applications if one is required in order to move forward.
You can receive a free quote for the cost of a bat survey on your development site and any other related ecological consultancy services you may need by speaking to our team. Simply call us over the phone, fill out a quote form online or visit our contact page. After our bat ecologists have concluded bat surveys on your site, your bat report will follow shortly after, and with it, you will be able to satisfy the conditions of your local planning authority and obtain successful planning applications.