Bat surveys may be required prior to gaining planning permission from local planning authorities. Because bats and their habitats are fully protested under both British and European legislation LPA’s have to take them into account as a material consideration of planning
A wide array of projects require bat surveys prior to planning permission being granted. A large proportion of these are projects which affect existing buildings and trees. The reason for this is that bats roost in buildings and trees, and so anything which has the potential to affect these could potentially harm bats and lead to a breach of the legislation.
Bats have been found to use many different areas in buildings to roost. Essentially any gap in the building could be used by roosting bats. Bats such as the common pipistrelle and brown long eared bat are commonly found in cavity walls, roof spaces, underneath roof tiles, behind boarding and behind boxed soffits. Local planning authorities are likely to ask for bat surveys to be completed prior to any work taking place which has the potential to disturb these areas.
Loft conversions, re-roofing, building extensions, demolition and barn conversions are all activities which have the potential to disturb these areas and so LPA’s will ask for bat surveys to be completed prior to planning permission being granted.
Barn conversions will almost always require bat surveys prior to planning permission being granted as old farm barns are ideal habitat for roosting and feeding bats. Barns have many features which make them suitable such as old wooden beams with gaps and cracks around the joints slatted wooden walls, or thick brick walls. The countryside location of barns also makes them an ideal roosting spot for bats.
As mentioned earlier bats also roost in trees and can be found in cracks and deep fissures in the timber or closer to the surface underneath tree bark and in smaller cracks. As with buildings any action which has the potential to disturb or harm bats in trees will require a bat survey. Trees can be surveyed in different ways. Many companies will only survey trees from the ground to look for holes and cracks with roosting potential. This is an acceptable method, however climbing the tree can often allow the surveyor to discount small fissures which may look suitable from the ground but up close could not be used by bats. We are qualified to carry out aerial tree surveys and believe that this approach is more thorough, and can allow us to confirm or discount holes trees more accurately which will save the developer time and money.
Bats are most active during the spring and summer months and so this is the time that most bat surveys are carried out. Checks of buildings can be carried out during times of the year when bats are not active, however if signs of use by bats or features which could be used by bats are found then more survey work may have to be carried out at a time of year when bats are active. This can cause considerable delays to a project.
The best approach is to ensure surveys are completed as early as possible in your project planning. Ideally prior to lodging your planning application, this helps to keep the planners on side and will help to avoid any delays to your project and any negative impact on wildlife!
United Environmental Services are experienced in bat surveys and give ecological planning advice to a range of clients from householders to utilities companies.
Call us or get in touch via the contacts page on our website for advice and information and we will do our best to help