Highly-Regarded Gloucestershire Countryside
Aside from the focal points of Cheltenham and Gloucester – two distinctly urbanised towns and cities – the county of Gloucestershire in the South West is effectively entirely rural. An estimated 600,000 people occupy Gloucestershire, and with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) classifying the county as predominantly rural, around 42.3% of inhabitants are either based in the countryside or in locations that fit into the category of large market towns.
An abundance of green spaces in and around Gloucestershire enables numerous opportunities for wildlife to assemble suitable habitats. Of all protected species, bats are commonly situated across the country, and the county of Gloucestershire emerges as a viable option due to the nature of the climate. In any area, bat populations can use the existing natural and man-made features such as hedges and trees or buildings, barns and sheds as bat roosts.
Each part of the UK has a combination of bat species from the 17 in circulation, but with the number of sightings seeing an ongoing decline, it is to be expected that various conservation groups and organisations are becoming more and more concerned over the current and future situation regarding the bats that inhabit our spaces. As a method of counteracting the drop, tighter restrictions were implemented to prevent further unnecessary harm from coming to native bats.
Support for Bats
All bats native to the county of Gloucestershire are given sufficient safeguarding by the Gloucestershire Bat Group (GBG). As a result of the common overlap that occurs between the presence of bats and development projects, matters relating to planning are listed multiple times by the GBG. It is frequently mentioned as a possible danger to bats and bat roosts, with the group making it clear that they can provide helpful support to developers.
As well as local regulation from the Gloucestershire Bat Group, local bats are protected on a national scale by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT). Both of them offer guidance to the local council in terms of the parameters used when it comes to granting or denying planning permission on sites with bats in the vicinity. Within these circumstances, nothing will produce the same level of detail or fundamentally important next steps as a bat survey conducted by an ecological consultant.
Among the species of bat in Gloucestershire are the barbastelle bat, Bechstein’s bat, Brandt’s bat, brown long-eared bat, common pipistrelle bat, Daubenton’s bat, greater horseshoe bat, Leisler’s bat, lesser horseshoe bat, Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat, Natterer’s bat, noctule bat, serotine bat, soprano pipistrelle bat and whiskered bat. Legislation designed to protect bats includes 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.
From active legislation to the works of local and national conservation groups, bats are guaranteed safety on a comprehensive scale. It is good news for bats, but bad news for developers, as it results in limitations over any proposed development works that have the ability to disrupt bats or their roosts. The only feasible way around such restrictions is through the use of ecological services, and with the help of an ecological consultancy, the likelihood of breaking the law is diminished and factors that prevent successful planning applications are removed.
Immediately after prior ecological surveys such as a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) or following observations regarding the development site, bat surveys will begin with a preliminary roost assessment (PRA). Also known as a bat scoping survey or extended phase 1 habitat survey, the PRA will enable an ecological surveyor an opportunity to inspect the site for signs of bats, such as roosting bats themselves, bat roosts, bat droppings or bat prey remains.
Every potential habitat will be analysed, and if the ecologist has enough further information to categorically deny any likelihood of roosting bats on the site, the accompanying bat report will say so and insist on no reason to deny the planning application. On the other hand, even if the ecologist simply cannot rule out any chance of bats on the site, further surveys will be needed in the form of a bat emergence and re-entry survey (BERS).
Otherwise titled a bat activity survey, the bat emergence survey requires multiple experienced ecologists to attend the site several times between the months of May and September. During each visit, they will use specialist equipment to record entry and exit points, as well as any bat calls that could give an indication of the present species. The resulting information should then conclude the bat survey process and give the local council all the insight they need.
An extensive bat survey report will be created to explain the likely impact of the development on native bats, any expected habitat loss, a mitigation design that will allow the planning project to continue and – providing all boxes have been ticked – a recommendation to the local planning authority that will support planning applications. It will also help with addressing any additional considerations, such as the need for other ecology surveys if another European-protected species is found.
Request a Quote for a Bat Survey
Whether you are planning loft conversions, extensions or a new build on any type of land surface, our bat survey specialists are here to assist, all within the guidance of relevant regulators such as Natural England and the BCT. Our team have worked with a wide range of clients on a vast array of different projects, and through our drive to cover the entirety of the country, we can guarantee bat surveys for your development in Gloucestershire and other nearby areas.
We can even offer a free quote for bat surveys on your development site before you commit to our ecology services. To start the process, just call us over the phone, complete a quote form online or check out our contact page for all other communication options. After receiving details about your site and project, one of our administration team can put together a quote for you, and if you are happy with it, our ecological consultants will work closely with you to complete any and all necessary bat surveys, offer expert advice, and help you in obtaining planning permission.