London’s Ecological Features
Best known as the capital of England, the London region is formed from the two counties of the City of London and Greater London. While the City of London sits in the middle of the region and has the eight wards of Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate, Farringdon Within, Farringdon Without, Portsoken, Queenhithe, and Tower, the more traditionally structured county of Greater London surrounds the city and has a total of 32 boroughs.
Despite the domination of urban areas over rural areas across London, the region is home to multiple forms of wildlife and protected animal species. Bats are often considered a solely rural animal that only appears in woodland areas. A number of species, however, are present throughout the region, occupying both infrastructures in the City of London and the millions of trees in Greater London.
Identified Bat Species in London
Different species of bat may be present based on location, and as such, the bats roosting in London could differ from the bats forming habitats in other parts of England. 18 species are currently in the UK, with evidence indicating that 17 of these species are continuing to breed. London has five of these present bat species including two types of pipistrelle bat.
London Bat Species
- Daubenton’s bat
- Natterer’s bat
- Noctule bat
- Pipistrelle bat (common pipistrelle and Nathusius’s pipistrelle)
Legal protections within UK and European legislation such as the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prevent harm or disturbance from coming to bats. As bats can appear almost anywhere – including throughout all areas of the London region – it is possible that a development project could affect bats, acting as an obstacle to bat habitats and vice versa.
All bats are fully protected by law, and in order to guarantee that the planned development works demonstrate an intention to support roosting bats, commuting bats and foraging bats – all while bypassing any unnecessary delays to your planning project – developers would be advised to book a bat survey with a licensed ecological surveyor.
Bat Inspections on Development Sites
Prior to any bat surveys, an ecologist will often conduct a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) as a method of identifying any and all protected animal species and valuable or invasive plant species on a development site at the first stage. When an ecological consultant finds evidence that bats could be present during a PEA, they will recommend ecology surveys that are suited to bats, namely a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) or scoping bat survey to confirm bat occupancy and determine roosting locations.
Following a brief desk study into the site and the surrounding land, an ecological surveyor will approach a PRA using sightings of bat carcasses, feeding remains of prey and bat droppings as evidence that bats are present. They will also ask the developer core questions about their project and use the insights to work out if the development project will be likely to disturb bats on the site. If evidence suggests that there are no bats present or that bats on the site are away from harm, they will reflect this opinion in the report from conducted bat surveys and no further assessments will be needed. If, however, bats are on the site and could be affected by the planning project, the ecologist will be required to move on to the next stage of the bat survey process.
Also known as bat activity surveys, entry and re-entry surveys or dusk and dawn surveys, a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS) will see multiple ecological consultants visit the site over several dates outside of hibernation between the months of May and September. During each visit, the ecologists involved will use specialist equipment to monitor bat entry and exit points on the site. Not only can this be used as an opportunity to work out specific locations where bats are arriving and leaving the site, but using bat detectors, video cameras and sound recorders, the ecological surveyors can identify the species of bat inhabiting the plot of land.
As with the PRA, bat emergence surveys will conclude with the main ecologist developing a bat survey report. In the bat report, all of the information about the assessment, the ecological consultant’s findings, and effective next steps will be included, such as installing bat boxes to support bats and minimise impacts to them as a result of the planning project. Your local planning authority in London will recognise the report from bat surveys as a tangible, reliable and accountable analysis that will assist them in the decision to grant or deny an application for planning permission. From various stages in bat surveys, you may discover badgers, breeding birds or reptiles, for instance, prompting the need for other European protected species surveys.
Competent Bat Ecologists
Bats under legal protection are situated across England and, despite the high percentage of urban spaces over rural spaces, London is no different. As a precaution, we recommend booking bat surveys with our ecology team if you are under the impression that bats are or may be present on your development site. That way, you can avoid causing harm to bat populations or bat roosts in the area, remain within the rules of relevant UK laws, eliminate likely delays to your development project, and prove to the planning department of your local council that a licensed ecologist has properly assessed the site.
With the necessary qualifications and experience in conducting an array of ecological services across London and the rest of England and to outside locations such as the South East and South West, our ecologists are ready and able to perform a bat survey on your site. In addition to undertaking ecology services on European protected species of bats such as a PRA and BERS assessment, we can also help with mitigation licence applications to Natural England if one is needed as part of your planning application to the local authority.
If you are in need of bat surveys carried out by our ecology team such as preliminary roost assessments, bat emergence surveys or other ecology services involving fully protected bats, we offer the opportunity to evaluate the cost of an assessment by simply submitting details of your site and project to us beforehand, receiving a free quote based on these specifications. For a free quote, talk to our team by visiting our contact page, filling out a quote form or calling us directly, and we will be able to send across your quote and arrange a time to undertake bat surveys and assist you with gaining a planning condition as soon as you give us the green light.