Bat surveys include emergence (dusk), return (dawn), hibernation, transects and automated recordings in order to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation. It is an offence for anyone without a licence to kill, injure, disturb, catch, handle, possess or exchange a bat intentionally. It is also illegal for anyone without a licence to intentionally damage or obstruct access to any place that a bat uses for shelter or protection.
Bat roosts are protected throughout the year, whether bats are present or not.
Typical surveys for bats in buildings involve :
- A daytime, visual inspection for bat roosts and roosting bats.
- A survey of the site for emerging/returning bats using a heterodyne bat detector, sound recording equipment, endoscopes and automated recording devices.
- An assessment of the on-site potential for bats and the likelihood of their presence.
- An assessment of whether bats are a constraint to the development.
- The production of a non-technical summary of the legal implications behind bat presence.
- A report including the findings of the field survey work and identifying recommendations for a potential mitigation strategy that seeks to maintain a favourable conservation status.
If a bat roost is discovered and development would disturb the roost, a Natural England Development Licence is required. This requires the input of a bat ecologist to produce a method statement including a work programme. Bat mitigation is included with the bat survey report and consequently, the requirements of bats are incorporated into the planning application at an early stage. Wold Ecology aims to design cost-effective and site-specific bat mitigation including boxes, bat lofts, soffit designs and bat tiles.
The Natural England Low Impact Bat Class Licence (BLICL) was launched in 2015 and trials have successfully reduced the burden on the customer by reducing the application paper work, scrutiny of the three tests prior to a licence being granted and speed in which a licence decision was determined. It also enabled a more proportionate approach to licensing to be taken for certain case types which will reduce the costs if roosting bats are present.
It is designed for low impact roosts only, e.g. not maternity roosts or hibernacula. The development must also not affect more than three individuals of the seven most common and widespread bat species. The low impact bat class license negates the statutory 6 to 10 week period for a normal license to be considered, although there is still a waiting period of around 5 to 10 days.
Only Registered Consultants will be able to make use of this Low Impact Bat Class Licence and Chris Toohie is 1 of only 120 (as of March 2016) consultants in the UK hold this license.
Legal obligations towards bats are generally concerned with roost protection. All developments, known to contain bat roosts, require a licence from Natural England. Under Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, it is an offence for anyone without a licence to kill, injure, disturb, catch, handle, possess or exchange a bat intentionally. It is also illegal for anyone without a licence intentionally to damage or obstruct access to any place that a bat uses for shelter or protection
Testimonial - Chris has worked with us on a number of important historic building surveys, repairs and refurbishments where his knowledge of the regulations in the minefield that encompasses all European Protected Species, in particular bats, has helped us enormously. In particular he has enabled us to provide an integrated service to our Clients, the building owners, so that we can programme construction work to minimise delays due to EPS licence work, and therefore have a tighter control on costs. I look forward to working with Chris in the future. Andrew Boyce, Ferrey & Mennim Ltd, Chartered Architects.
Testimonial - Chris Toohie has produced many bat scoping and emergence surveys for Ferrey and Mennim Ltd to an excellent standard. He and his colleagues at Wold Ecology have been very punctual, our clients have reported good feedback and are pleased with his reasonable costs. A pleasure to work with! Sean Lilley, Architectural Technologist at Ferrey and Mennim Ltd