Bats: A brief life history
Bats are often misunderstood and are generally not portrayed in a very good light – this reputation is unfair as bats provide important benefits to the environment, particularly insect pests such as mosquitos, moths and other insects that can damage crops.
Bats are nocturnal animals that are active between dusk and dawn during the summer months, retiring to communal roosts during the day to rest. Bats roosts not only serve as a place of rest after foraging all night, they also provide a refuge for bats to hibernate over the winter, and a safe environment for them to breed and raise their young. Bats typically establish roosts close to a ready supply of food (insects) and water, but as the seasons change, they may move the roost to another site that is more suitable to their needs at that time of the year.
Current Status and Why Bats are Protected
Bats are protected because they have suffered significant declines over the last few decades due to changes in land-use, loss of roosts within buildings and fragmentation of habitat.
We are fortunate to have a wide variety of bat species in the United Kingdom (18 species in total), which are all legally protected. Under the current legislation it is illegal to deliberately disturb, capture, injure or kill bats. It is also illegal to damage or destroy a bat roost, or prevent bats from gaining access to their roost.
How One of Our Bat Surveys Works
In order to get local authority approval for any new development you will need to provide evidence that the proposed development will not pose a threat to bats — either directly, or indirectly by threatening their roosting sites. To this end, you will need scientific evidence confirming the presence or absence of bats on your development site. As a licensed ecological consultancy we can verify this by sending one of our ecological experts to your site to conduct a scoping bat survey during the daytime, inspecting the interior and exterior of buildings, as well as any trees on site, for any evidence of bats or bat activity.
Should we find any evidence of bats or bat activity on your site or if the site is considered suitable for roosting bats, your local authority will likely request that a second bat inspection — or bat emergence survey — be undertaken. The bat emergence survey is seasonally limited to the summer months (1 May — 30 September), with inspections carried out at dawn and dusk — the time of peak activity at bat roosts, when bats are either returning to-or departing from their roosting sites.
Take a look at our information sheet for a step-b-step guide to how our surveys work.
What Happens if Bats are Present on your Site
During the bat emergence survey all emerging bats or bats returning to the roost are recorded. Their species are noted, together with their flight paths and time of entry/exit. A bat emergence survey will confirm the presence of bats and their numbers, as well as identify the species. It will also provide important information such as the type of bat roost, the entrance/exit points, and what mitigating action needs to be taken to ensure the proposed development meets legal compliance.
Mitigation may include doing the development work at a time of year when bats are absent to reduce disturbance. If however, the work will definitely damage or disturb where the bats are roosting then you may need to get a licence to do the work.