Trees and Woodland Areas for Roosting Bats
Recognised as a rural location bursting with green areas and natural features, Devon in the South West region is classed as 82.6% undeveloped and holds five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Among the vast countryside, it also has just short of 80 towns, including Barnstaple, Dartmoor, Exeter, Exmouth, Newton Abbot, Paignton, Plymouth and Torquay.
The extensive selection of untouched sections across the county can be perceived as suitable roosting locations for bats, with the species gauging desirable destinations based on favourable conservation status, climate and habitat suitability. Natural and man-made features can act as bat roosts, from trees to houses and garages, and from hedgerows to sheds and barns.
In the UK, there are 17 recorded species of bat, with each area seeing an assortment of different species. The population numbers and sightings of bats and bat roost sites, however, are continuing to drop, causing concern over the growing rarity of the species. In response to this, UK legislation was created to protect certain animals and plants – bats featuring high on the list of priorities.
Local Bat Groups
For bats throughout the country, protections come from the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and local bat groups. Each local bat group will oversee the corresponding area, running studies, walks and events to educate residents and contribute to the safeguarding of native bats. It will also be their duty to respond to anyone that gets in touch after finding a sick, injured or orphaned bat.
Climate and habitat suitability will act as the two deciding factors when a bat chooses a viable roosting location. As a result, areas with as many green spaces as Devon see a large number of bat species, including the barbastelle bat, Bechstein’s bat, Brandt’s bat, brown long-eared bat, Daubenton’s bat, greater horseshoe bat, Leisler’s bat, lesser horseshoe bat, natterer’s bat, pipistrelle bat, serotine bat and whiskered bat.
UK and European 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 protects bats and other protected species, preventing anyone that intends to deliberately capture, disturb, harm or handle bats or bat roosts. The Devon Bat Group specifically monitors matters affecting bats in the area, especially any land or property developments that could be hazardous to them.
As both trees and buildings can be used as roosts, any developments that are set to alter or destroy these features could also affect bats. It can be difficult for developers to understand how to approach a project appropriately with consideration to bats and other protected species. Fortunately, however, they are given the option of arranging a bat survey, allowing a sufficiently qualified and knowledgeable expert to undertake surveys to support bats, take on the responsibility of appeasing the statutory authority, and help with gaining a successful application.
Site and Building Bat Inspections
Following the identification of bats on the development site or property – or as the result of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) – a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey will be needed as the first stage in the bat survey process. In essence, a PRA will be an opportunity for an ecologist to undertake bat surveys on the development site and view all areas of the plot of land and all buildings present first-hand, looking for indications of bats such as carcasses, remains of prey, droppings, bat roosts, and the results of DNA analysis.
A bat roost can appear in buildings, trees and other features on any given site, so the ecological consultant will look over all of these locations before producing a report detailing the results and conclusions from the assessment. No further information will be needed if the ecological surveyor is adamant that no bats are present, leading to a recommendation for planning consent. Whenever bats or evidence of bats is found – or even if the ecologist simply cannot categorically rule out bat occupancy – a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS) or bat activity surveys will be required.
Conducted over a handful of periods at certain times between May and September at dusk and dawn, a bat emergence survey is undertaken to monitor entry and exit points, establish populations, and determine species based on echolocation calls using highly specialised equipment. It will then give the ecological consultant all the information they need about both the site and present bats to inform on suitable mitigation measures and the viability of putting forward a planning application to the local council.
After the BERS, a bat report will be put together, explaining the nature of the assessment, data retrieved about bats on the site, and mitigation measures that will ensure the safety of the bats while allowing the planning project to continue. The ecology report can then be passed on to the local planning authority, and as it will include all of the required information, it will remove any obstacles and concerns that would otherwise prevent a successful application for planning permission. That said, if other European protected species are identified during bat surveys on the site, the report may also suggest the need for further surveys.
Ask Us for a Bat Survey Quote
Across our team is a vast selection of ecological surveyors with the experience, training, licensing and qualifications to manage bat surveys to a universally high standard. By trusting them in your planning project as an ecological clerk, you can establish and eliminate any issues relating to bats in the eyes of the local planning authorities and achieve a planning condition, and they will even assist in mitigation class licence applications to Natural England. If you need a further application for a European Protected species licence, our team can assist if one is needed before relocating bats or destroying bat roosts.
All of our quotes are unique to the client and vary in price depending on the site and proposed development. As a result, we offer a free quote to clients that get in touch before they commit to using our services. You can do this online or over the phone, and at this point, all we ask is that you provide as much detail as possible so we can guarantee an accurate valuation. We can then choose a date for the bat survey and help you to avoid impacts on your development, obstruct access to native bats, and satisfy the natural range of planning requirements of the local authorities.