Let's Hang Out Together

Let's Hang Out Together

Bats and other protected species may affect your planning application. Annabel Douglas explains how to minimise disruption

Vampires were a childhood fear so I have been rather unlucky to be woken up in three different houses with a bat flying around my bedroom! Despite screaming hysterically with a duvet over my head, I am pleased to report none of them bit me and, as a result, I am now rather fond of bats and find them quite fascinating.

In the UK there are 18 different species of bat. Bats are nocturnal and use sound to navigate to detect obstacles in flight, find their way into roosts and forage for food – a trick called echolocation.

Bats and their roosts are protected by law. It is illegal to damage, destroy or disturb any bats or roosts without official consent. A roost is “any place that a wild bat uses for shelter or protection and the roost is protected whether bats are present or not”.

Bats and other protected species should be considered when undertaking development work. Depending on the type of development proposed, the local council will require an ecology survey to be undertaken by a qualified licensed environmental consultant.

Surveys should be carried out at the optimum time of year when species are most active. If species are located, it may be necessary to undertake further surveys. The consultant will then prepare a report and biodiversity mitigation plan which will suggest suitable measures; this will then be agreed by the council. For bats these could include bat boxes, incorporation of existing roosts into new buildings and bat barns/houses.

Not all species are fortunate enough to enjoy legal protection. West European Hedgehogs are listed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species as there has been a noticeable decline in hedgehog numbers in recent years. The BAP list is still used to inform wildlife priorities at various levels of governance across the UK, although it has been superseded.

Give nature a home

While developers are obliged to provide mitigation measures for protected species, it is important we try to give all nature a home, protected or otherwise. Bat boxes and hedgehog houses make a nice addition to any outdoor space and there are a range of designs available. Sadly, we can’t guarantee a swift ‘sale’ to the first bat or hedgehog. As with all real estate, location, location, location is vitally important and, just like humans, animals can be very picky! 

The UK has a number of protected species which need to be considered in the planning process

  • Great crested newts
  • Badgers
  • Bats
  • Hazel or common dormice
  • Water voles
  • Otters
  • Wild birds
  • Reptiles
  • Protected plants
  • White-clawed crayfish
  • Invertebrates
  • Freshwater fish
  • Natterjack toads
  • Ancient woodland and veteran trees

This article is taken from Symonds & Sampson's award-winning lifestyle magazine 'Country Matters'. Read the magazine here, or collect a copy from your nearest office. 

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