UES were commissioned by the Education Funding Agency in 2013 to carry out bat presence / absence surveys at 6 schools in Nottinghamshire. The schools form part of the Government’s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP). The PSBP focuses on replacing school buildings that are reaching the end of their design life and are no longer suitable for the delivery of a modern educational curriculum. Bat surveys were required as part of the planning permission for the demolition of the current school buildings and the construction of replacement schools.
The initial bat presence / absence surveys were undertaken between June and August 2013, under Natural England and Bat Conservation Trust guidelines, timings and weather conditions. Two dusk and two dawn surveys were carried out at each of the 6 schools. The surveys recorded a low number of relatively common bats foraging and commuting over the site. Species recorded included Common pipistrelle, Brown long-eared and Noctule bats. 5 out of the 6 schools were found to support low numbers of roosting Common pipistrelle bats.
Roosts were found in crevices between concrete blocks, gaps in brickwork, gaps between concrete panels and behind bargeboards. The school buildings are used as summer roost by a low number of Common pipistrelle bats. Bats present are most likely males, juveniles or non-breeding females.
Common pipistrelle bats are the most widespread and commonest of Britain’s bats. However, populations are in decline and are afforded full protection under the Conservation and Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. Pipistrelle species are a crevice dwelling bat and are normally found roosting in small gaps in trees or buildings. Typical building roosting features include gaps in the soffits, wall cavity and at the eaves, and gaps under hanging tiles, bargeboards, and between roofing felt and tiles.
Due to the presence of roosts in the buildings, demolition works are to be carried out under a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL). A bat method statement was produced for each school containing roosts and was submitted to the Local Planning Authority as part of the planning application. The method statement sets out all of the procedures, timings and compensation measures required in order to avoid impacts on bats during works, and avoid any potential breaches of protected species legislation.
Proposed mitigation measures include ecological toolbox talks to contractors, roost inspections prior to demolition, soft demolition of the roosts under supervision of a licenced bat ecologist, and translocation of bats by a licenced bat ecologist (where required). Compensation is to be provided in the form of a variety of species specific bat boxes positioned throughout site and retention / enhancement of foraging corridors.
Many of the schools are now in the construction phase of development and UES also won bids with the main works contractor to undertake further bat surveys during the 2015 season, and secure all of the European Protected Species Licences which are required.