Think you may be in need of a bat survey? While you might be fearful that the presence of bats might scupper your development plans, or add additional costs to your project, finding bats on site does not need to cause you to panic. We can still help you achieve planning consent so long as the correct procedures and measures are taken.
Indigo Surveys can assist you with the whole process, from the initial bat surveys through to submitting reports to planning authorities, through to any mitigation work or even protected species licences that may need to be secured. We are bat survey experts and should be the first place you turn should you think that bats may be likely to cause any planning issues for you.
How are bats protected?
All UK bat species and their roots are protected by the EC Habitats Directive, which is enforced via the Habitats Regulations 2010. All 18 species of bat native to the UK are protected, so if you are planning a development that may impact upon buildings, trees and other potential roosting sites, you have a legal obligation to avoid disturbing the bats.
Current bat protection laws make it illegal to:
- Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat.
- Deliberately disturb bats, whether at roost or not
- Damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts, regardless of whether bats are present or not.
- Possess a bat, whole or in part, alive or dead.
When is a bat survey required?
Bat surveys are often required when there is conversion, modification or removal of an existing building, but can also extend to tree removals. Anywhere where there is a ‘reasonable possibility’ that your work could disrupt or harm bats, then the local authority will require a bat survey which you must follow through with.
Certain types of property, including barn conversions, other agricultural buildings of traditional brick of stone construction, and some pre-1914 buildings are likely to require a bat survey. It is fair to say that any site in close proximity to woodland and/or water would be most likely to fall under this category, but you should check with the local planning authority first.
How do I know if I have bats?
Sometimes, you’ll just know because you can see them flying around and entering/existing your property in the summer months. Even if you can’t see them does not mean they are not there, so you need to get in some licenced ecologist to make sure. Indigo Surveys use specialist equipment to find bats as they can sometimes be in the most hard to spot places on your property.
How do bats affect my planning application?
Where a bat survey is required, a planning application is unable to proceed without one. A bat survey report will either confirm/deny the presence of bats and suggest any mitigating measures that need to be carried out to satisfy the local planning authority. Otherwise, the planning application will be refused.
What types of bat survey are available?
There are essentially two type of bat survey – preliminary surveys and emergence or activity surveys:
– assess whether there is a likelihood of bats
– consist of a desk-based data survey e.g already recorded presence of bats in the area
– site inspection to establish presence of bats and evidence of their activity e.g. droppings, urine stains, bits of prey, dead bat carcasses, entry-exit points
– will either dismiss the possibility of bats or be followed up by the full emergenc/activity survey
– follows on from a positive preliminary survey indicating the possibility of bats
– best carried out between May and September, at dusk and dawn
– usually include include the use of infra-red cameras, hand-held bat detectors, unattended fixed bat detectors
– will detail the activity and presence of bats, type of species, and particular location
– survey will need to be submitted with the full planning application along with details of follow up or mitigation measures
How much does a bat survey cost?
If you require a preliminary bat survey then this amounts to around 1 day’s work and these start at £300 + VAT. Costs will depend on the number locations to inspect, but should you require a full bat survey (after the preliminary survey) then this could cost in the region of £1,000+.
Who can do bat surveys?
Bat surveys should only be carried out by licenced ecologists since the report could very well be rejected by the local authority on the basis that the report compiler is not competent enough. A licence essentially permits the holder to lawfully disturb bats safely. Any unlicensed person must retreat if finding evidence of roosting.
With Indigo Surveys you can be sure that all of our bat surveyors have all the necessary ecological qualifications and training, and a science and conservation licence for bats, issued by the relevant statutory nature conservation organisation (SNCO).
When is the best time for bat surveys to be carried out?
The preliminary survey can be carried out at any time of the year. Since it involved assessing the building and site for evidence (dropping, feeding remains etc) and suitability for bats, it can be done regardless of whether the bats are in hibernation or not. The evidence will inform whether any further work is required.
Should an activity survey be required, this generally needs to be completed during April to September when the bats are most active. Outside of this period and activity surveys become impossible, so it’s therefore important to plan ahead if you are likely to require a bat survey so that you don’t miss the window of opportunity and have to wait until the following year for your bat survey to take place.
What happens if surveys establish I’ve got bats?
If the presence of bats has been firmly established then your next steps will usually be outlined in your report which will advise what action needs to be taken to avoid harming the bats during any development.
Development work where bats are present takes one of two forms: compensation or mitigation.
- Mitigation – minimises the impact of the development on bats (e.g carrying out works to a summer roost in winter when the bats are not present)
- Compensation – offsetting of the impact of the development (e.g. providing alternative roosts such as bat boxes or more significant roost spaces).
How long is a bat survey valid for?
Bats do not remain in the same roost for life and actually move around frequently. For this reason, circumstances can change and bat surveys are only valid for a limited amount of time. Each local authority will have different time frames but all surveys will be valid for at least 12 months, if not 24 months.
So, I won’t get planning permission without a bat survey?
If there’s reasonable likelihood of bats being on site, you must submit a bat survey along with your planning application. Without taking the required steps then you won’t get the necessary permission. Any planning approval would be conditional on the recommendations of the report being carried out when you come to undertake the works. The type of measures required will usually depend on the type of bats found on site as each has different requirements based on access points, required space etc.
How can Indigo Surveys help me?
The possibility of bats on your development site can be a worry, but doing nothing is not an option. Once we confirm or dismiss the presence of bats on your property or development we can assist you on your next move if required.
Here at Indigo Surveys, we can help you find out early in the process whether you have bats on site, and by getting a preliminary bat survey and any necessary follow-up action ensures you don’t fall foul of the law and the well-being of the bats is maintained.
Find out about bat survey costs by Contacting Indigo Surveys for a Bat Survey quote.