Natural Areas Across Somerset
One of the most rural counties in England, Somerset in the South West sees around 48% of the population situated in green parts of the county. As well as grassland and woodland, the county of Somerset features caves, orchards and numerous notable cities, towns and villages.
Based on the presence of trees, buildings and even caves across Somerset, various potential roosting locations open up to the bat species in the surrounding landscape. The UK is home to 17 different species of bat, and in a predominantly countryside area like Somerset, the likelihood of bats creating roosts in the nearby area heightens.
Bat roosts can be formed in a number of man-made and natural features, such as trees and buildings. As a result of this, bats in the Somerset area could inhabit trees across woodland sections of the county and suitable structures such as barns, sheds and houses in the cities, towns and villages. A protected species, bats are safeguarded by UK law, and an assessment will be needed before any work that could potentially endanger them begins.
Bat Groups and Trusts
In order to sufficiently protect bats, communities of ecologists and mindful residents assemble bat groups. Operating in collaboration with the Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), the Somerset Bat Group oversees the local area, managing events, surveys and advice to support the 16 discovered species of bat in the county.
Developments and the impact they can have on bats rank highly as one of the main concerns of local bat groups such as Somerset Bat Group. In relation to planning, bat groups can protect bats by monitoring the planning application criteria from the local council and offer advice to developers that want to meet said criteria correctly. Species of bat identified in Somerset include brown long-eared bats, Daubenton’s bats, lesser horseshoe bats, noctule bats and pipistrelle bats.
UK laws that guarantee the conservation, preservation and protection of bats include 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. It is only possible for developers to adhere to these laws and successfully gain planning permission by arranging a bat survey on the site.
Assessing a Site for Bats
It is likely that the need for bat surveys will be prompted by one of two things: an earlier Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey that suggested a presence of bats on the site or the developer simply having reason to believe that bats could dwell somewhere within the site or property. Alternatively, however, a developer may integrate ecological services such as protected species surveys into their planning process to rule out any likelihood of unforeseen ecological constraints.
Either way, a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) will be the first step, allowing an experienced bat surveyor to look over the entirety of the site for signs of bats, with indications of bat populations including droppings, carcasses and the remains of prey. During an inspection of buildings and trees, the ecologist will also look for features that could act as viable roosting locations, now or in the future.
A bat report will be created to detail the findings from the survey work, and if there are no signs of bat activity, species present on the site or potential for bat roosts, the local planning authority will be informed of no reason to deny an application for planning consent. But if the ecologist has found evidence of bats or cannot rule out bat occupancy, the report will feature the necessary mitigation measures and call for further information to be collected in the form of a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS).
Elsewhere known as a Bat Activity Survey, a Bat Emergence Survey involves multiple ecologists attending the site during dusk and dawn several times between May and September to determine bat species, population numbers, and entry and exit points. With this information, the bat surveyor can gauge the locations of bats on the site and gain an understanding of their activity.
From bat surveys to Reptile Surveys and Great Crested Newt Surveys to Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, all ecological surveys conclude with the ecologist producing a report. In an ecology report, you will find a significant body of data including mitigation measures to satisfy local planning requirements, help with gaining a bat mitigation licence to undertake changes involving bats, recommendations for further ecological surveys required on the site, and other considerations that support planning applications.
Reach Out Today
All qualified, trained and experienced in undertaking bat surveys, our ecologists are the experts you need for support during planning applications on development sites involving bats. Our vast coverage enables us to cover all parts of the county, even including North Somerset and Mendip Bats Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Following many years of providing our bespoke protected species surveys to clients across the country, we have grown into an experienced ecological consultancy capable of solving any issue relating to bats. We would advise that clients get in touch by calling us using the number above or filling out our helpful quote form, and we can then produce a free quote for you to consider.
When you have agreed to the quote and worked with us to choose a suitable date for the assessment, we can attend your site for the bat survey and begin the process of inspecting your site for potential bat occupancy. From this point, our ecologists can take the reins in your planning application and ensure that you have all you need in the eyes of the local council to eliminate potential obstacles from the planning process.