Bat Survey in Dorset

Rural areas such as Dorset are havens for bats, both in trees and hedgerows and in a wide range of buildings. Your development site may have bats present, and if it does, you will need a bat survey before planning permission will be a realistic possibility.

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Locations for Bats to Roost

With only 6.3% of the county considered urban, Dorset in South West England is a primarily rural part of the United Kingdom. Known as the home to the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney, the county of Dorset matches coastal locations alongside a wealth of green areas, and it includes a wide selection of small towns and villages such as Weymouth, Ferndown and Dorchester, all surrounded by vast countryside.

Both natural features such as trees and hedgerows and man-made features such as different types of buildings can be used as a bat roost for native bats. An area like Dorset sees both rural and urban areas, potentially making it an ideal location for the 17 recorded species of roosting bats that have been identified throughout the UK.

Climate and roosting potential act as the two primary forms of criteria when it comes to bats choosing a location to inhabit. With bats situated all over the country and favourable conservation status, UK legislation was created to protect them from unnecessary harm. A variety of protected species are listed, but bats are often regarded as a priority based on a continuous fall in the population numbers of actively socialising bats.

Bat Conservation

It is a far simpler process to monitor and regulate the safety of bats by forming bat groups in all parts of the UK. Each bat group is managed by ecologists and residents with a passion for wildlife. In essence, bat groups work to conserve, preserve and protect bats, with the Dorset Bat Group overseeing such considerations in the county.

More specifically, tasks carried out by bat groups include running events, studies and walks for the local community, and providing support to residents that come across sick, injured or orphaned bats. Out of all bat species, the types of bats in the county of Dorset include the barbastelle bat, Bechstein’s bat, brown long-eared bat, greater horseshoe bat, grey long-eared bat, lesser horseshoe bat, pipistrelle bat and serotine bat.

Between the Dorset Bat Group and the broader Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), bats in the area are given the necessary level of protection. Laws also contribute to this, namely the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

The local council need the assistance of bat groups on developments, as planning projects can involve the alteration and demolition of buildings and trees where bats have already established roosts. Until planning requirements involving protected species are met, developers will be unable to progress their project or achieve full planning permission. Compliance and adherence to relevant policies are possible, however, through referring to the insights and expertise provided in a bat survey.

On-Site Bat Assessments

An ecologist will prompt a bat survey based on two outcomes – following the identification of bats on the development site or as the result of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey for an overall picture of the site, proposed works and species present. Evidence of bats will then trigger a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA), giving the ecological surveyor an opportunity to entertain a full internal and external inspection across all areas of the site or building for bats, bat roosts, indications of bats such as carcasses, bat droppings and feeding remains, and features that could suggest a high potential of habitat suitability for bats, such as loose roof tiles or gable ends.

A report will then be created by the ecological consultant, including a method statement regarding the site and all findings from the assessment such as observations of potential roosting locations – i.e. buildings, trees and other suitable areas of the site or property. The bat survey report will then dictate the necessary next step in the form of a bat mitigation strategy, recommending planning permission to the local planning authority if the assessment finds no evidence of bats and low potential for occupancy or providing a list of mitigation measures and insisting on further surveys if the assessment finds evidence of bats or high to moderate potential for occupancy.

When bats are found on a site in preliminary roost assessments, the ecologist will be required to undertake a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS) / bat entry and re-entry surveys / bat activity surveys. Involving multiple visits to the site, bat emergence surveys will see several ecological consultants monitoring likely entry and exit points at dusk and dawn outside of seasonal constraints between the optimal months of May-August, with survey tools such as automated bat detectors used to collect and process relevant data such as bat echolocation calls.

As with the PRA, the BERS survey effort will also conclude with the bat ecologist creating an ecology report to reflect the findings from the assessment based on the original bat survey requirements. With all bat surveys complete, there should be enough information to satisfy relevant planning policies and, as a result, the requirements of the local planning authority. At this point, nothing should stand in the way of a successful planning application, apart from if additional surveys may be required following the identification of other protected species such as great crested newts or badgers, whereby the report will suggest extra survey work to retrieve further information.

Request a Bat Survey Quote

All with the necessary licensing and training, our team of experienced ecologists is prepared for undertaking bat surveys on any site or property. As well as carrying out the assessment to support applications for planning consent, we can contribute to licence applications – i.e. a bat licence application for a European protected species licence (EPSL) to Natural England – if one is needed prior to any intervention involved in the proposed development that could disturb bats.

The ecologists within our team operate within good practice guidelines, at a constant speed to present the same rate of service to all private and commercial developers, and with an understanding of all parts of the planning system. Ecologists are situated in set locations across Dorset as generally required, meaning they are in the right place to support bats and development proposals using a set route that they are fluent in navigating for bat surveys conducted to support planning and avoid delays.

By sending over the details of your site and project, we can put together a free quote of how much a bat survey will cost at our affordable prices in an early stage of the process. Once you’ve agreed to the quote for our low-cost bat survey service, a date for the assessment that fits into your works schedule can be decided, and one of our ecologists will visit your site to conduct the inspection. Reach out to us and provide information to our team, and we can record bat activity, help you to meet planning requirements, achieve a planning condition from the local authorities, and prevent any unnecessary issues relating to local bats.