Urban Areas for Roosting
Best known as the home to the City of Manchester, the Greater Manchester county in North West England is mostly urban, with the rural population at a mere 1%. Alongside the City of Manchester, the county also includes other notable built-up towns and cities such as Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Sale, Salford, Stockport and Wigan.
Even though the county is lacking in countryside features and locations, it still holds the potential for acting as a destination for bat roosts. Bats can form roosts in a wide range of places, including barns, garages, sheds, houses and other types of buildings, as well as any trees and hedgerows, with bats choosing an area based on habitat suitability and climate.
UK legislation protects specific animals and plants that are rare, unique or dwindling in numbers. Countless animals and plants are part of these laws, but bats feature heavily, as sightings of roosting bats are in decline. Not only that, but population numbers indicate fewer hibernating bats and socialising bats present in the country every year.
Bat Groups and Societies
Protected species need a level of regulation in order to ensure that they are safeguarded accordingly, and the natural way to do this is through the use of bat groups that are designed to conserve and preserve bats in the corresponding area. Managing local projects, events and studies, bat groups are located all over the country to benefit the safety of bats and the education of residents. Even locations that aren’t considered rural have bat groups, with the South Lancashire Bat Group overseeing Greater Manchester.
Any time an orphaned, injured or sick bat is found in the Greater Manchester area, residents will be encouraged to contact the South Lancashire Bat Group. Bats will choose a location to roost based on habitat suitability and climate and – looking specifically at Greater Manchester – present bat species include the Brandt’s bat, Daubenton’s bat, noctule bat, common pipistrelle bat and whiskered bat.
Alongside the South Lancashire Bat Group, the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) oversees bat protection throughout the country, enforcing adherence to relevant 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.
Local authorities often need to speak with local bat groups on land developments, property developments and barn conversions, for example, particularly when it comes to applications for planning consent. Planning projects can threaten the safety of bats, as the buildings and trees that they are inhabiting may be altered or destroyed. Developers are advised to meet the needs of all parties involved by organising a bat survey on the development site.
Formal Assessment Over Bats
Two things can trigger a bat survey – identification of bats or evidence of bats on a development site or building, or as the result of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey. Either will lead to an internal and external inspection known as a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA), which acts as the first step in the bat surveying process. Inspecting trees, buildings and any other suitable roosting locations, the ecologist carrying out the site visit will look over the entirety of the plot of land, with bats, bat roosts, carcasses, bat droppings and insect-feeding remains acting as field signs that indicate occupancy.
As with the aftermath of all bat surveys, a bat report will be created after the assessment to outline conclusions from the inspection and next steps that will allow the planning project to move forwards. If there are no bats, a likely absence of bats, no evidence of bats on the development site and low potential for roosting opportunities, it will be easy for the ecological consultant to request that the local planning authority grants a planning condition on the site. If, however, there are bats or evidence of bats on the development site – or even if the ecological consultant simply cannot categorically rule out bat occupancy – mitigation measures and further surveys will be needed.
Under circumstances where bats are present or the habitat suitability is high, the developer will need to facilitate a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS) / dawn re-entry surveys / dusk emergence surveys / bat activity surveys. Conducted solely in the summer months between May and September at dusk and dawn, a BERS requires a handful of visits to the site from a team of ecologists, who will use specialised equipment such as bat detectors to track expected entry and exit points. Information retrieved from the site will then help the ecological consultants to understand population numbers and roosting locations, with echolocation calls or bat calls indicating species of bat.
Once again, the bat emergence survey will result in a report detailing every aspect of the assessment. As it will include data about the development projects, mitigation measures that will ensure the continuation of the planning project, and any other considerations that will satisfy local planning requirements, the ecology report from all bat surveys carried out on the site should contain everything needed to prompt planning permission.
Contact Our Team
With the required training, licensing and extensive experience, the ecological consultants in our team are capable of performing high-standard bat surveys to benefit the development process and applications for planning consent. In addition, if a European protected species licence (EPSL) is needed to move bats or destroy bat roosts, they can help with and potentially even accelerate EPSL applications.
Receive a free quote by reaching out to our team and providing us with details about your site and project. Using these specifications, we can determine how much a bat survey would cost, and if you are happy to move forwards, give us the green light and we will be able to plan a date that fits your schedule. Through utilising the expertise and insight of our ecologists and the latest equipment such as cutting-edge bat detectors, you should see no problem in surpassing unwanted problems and securing a planning application.