Bat Surveys

Affordable Bat Surveys from £200+VAT. Ensure you stay on the right side of the law when bats may be present on your site. Bat surveys & follow-up action plans.

Bat Surveys

Think you may be in need of a bat survey report? While you might be fearful that the presence of a bat roost might scupper your development plans, or add additional costs to your project, finding bats on site does not mean the end of your planning permission. We can still help you achieve planning permission so long as the correct procedures and measures are taken.

What is a Bat Survey?

Bat surveys serve a critical role in planning and development projects. They ensure compliance with environmental regulations and safeguard the UK’s native bat species. These surveys are an essential prerequisite when undertaking any project that could potentially disturb bat habitats, such as construction or demolition work.

Indigo Surveys is at the forefront of this important endeavour. As seasoned professionals in this field, we provide comprehensive bat survey services, which encompass initial assessments, detailed reporting, adherence to bat survey guidelines and guidance on necessary mitigation measures. Our aim is to support developers while preserving the delicate balance of our ecosystems.

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 development proposal 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 or 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.  

Bat in tree

How do bats affect planning applications?

Where a bat survey is required, a planning application is unable to proceed without one. A 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 full planning consent or application will be refused.

Understanding Bat Roost protection in the UK

All UK bat species and bat roosts are protected by the EC Habitats Directive, which is enforced via the Habitats Regulations 2010 plus the Wildlife and Countryside Act 198. All 18 species of bat native to the UK are protected, so if you are planning a development that may impact buildings, trees and other potential roosting sites, you have a legal obligation to avoid disturbing the bats.

Third-Party Bat Roost Protection

Several organisations, including the Bat Conservation Trust, contribute to the protection of bat roosts, promoting awareness, conducting research, and advocating for the welfare of bats. They play an instrumental role in ensuring the laws around bat protection are observed.

Organisations such as the Bat Conservation Trust have a critical role in protecting roosts. They accomplish this through various means:

  • Education: They increase public understanding of bats and their habitats by holding educational events, producing informational materials, and using digital platforms for outreach.
  • Research: They support scientific investigations into bat behaviour and ecology, informing and enhancing protection strategies.
  • Policy Influence: These organisations advocate for bat-friendly legislation, engage in policy discussions, and encourage legal measures to protect roosts.
  • Direct Action: They work with landowners for habitat preservation, carry out bat rescue and rehabilitation, and aid in providing additional roosting options.
  • Partnership: They collaborate with other organisations, research institutions, and governmental bodies to leverage resources and expertise for greater conservation impact.

In essence, through a blend of education, research, advocacy, direct intervention, and collaboration, these groups ensure roosts are protected and preserved.

Bat Protection Laws protect every wild bat and bat roost in the UK.

These laws prohibit any intentional harm to bats, disruption of their habitats, and possession of bats, whether alive or deceased. This legal framework underscores the commitment of the UK to preserving its rich and diverse bat populations.

It is illegal to:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat.
  • Deliberately negatively affect bats by disturbing them, whether at the roost or not
  • Damage, destroy or obstruct access to roosts, regardless of whether bats are present or not.
  • Possess a bat, whole or in part, alive or dead. 

Bats have also found support in organisations such as the bat conservation , which try to support roosting bats and push the protection of bat species in the UK. They have also reinforced the bat survey guidelines.

How do I know if I have bats?

Sometimes, you’ll just know because you can see them flying around and entering/exiting your property in the summer months. Even if you can’t see evidence bats are present, if you have developments planned in a protected area, you need to get in a licensed ecologist to make sure.

Indicators of a Bat Roost

Identifying indicators of roost presence is a key step in determining the necessity of a bat survey. Here are some common signs of bat roosts:

  1. Bat Sightings: Regular sightings of bats around dusk and dawn, particularly near specific structures or trees, can suggest the presence of a roost.
  2. Bat Droppings: Unlike bird droppings, bat droppings crumble into a powdery substance when touched. They are typically found beneath the entry and exit points of a potential roost.
  3. Audible Sounds: High-pitched squeaking or rustling noises, especially during the twilight hours, may suggest bat activity.
  4. Physical Evidence: Look for signs like grease marks around small holes or cracks where bats might enter and exit, as well as the presence of bat urine, which may leave stains.
  5. Seasonal Indicators: During hibernation periods, bats may be spotted less frequently, but signs of their presence remain.

Noting the presence of these indicators should prompt further investigation by a licensed professional to confirm the presence of a roost.

Indigo Surveys use specialist equipment during a bat survey to find them, as bats roost in the most hard-to-spot places on your property, meaning many of our clients don’t think they have bats, until we find them, highlighting the importance of our bat surveys.

What types of bat surveys are available?

There are essentially two types of bat surveys: preliminary roost assessment surveys and emergence/activity surveys.

Preliminary roost assessment bat survey 

  • assess whether there is a likelihood of bats
  • consist of a desk-based data survey e.g already recorded the presence of bats in the area
  • site inspection to establish the 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 emergence/activity survey

Bat emergence surveys

  • 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 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

A bat survey season usually runs from May through to September, as bats typically hibernate during cooler months, and so their activity will be nigh impossible to spot.

The Bat Survey Report

Understanding a Bat Survey Report

A bat report is a comprehensive document produced following a bat survey. It includes detailed findings about the presence or absence of bats, the species identified, the number of individuals, and their roosting habits. The report also provides expert recommendations on how to manage any bats found, in line with UK wildlife legislation.

Validity of a Bat Survey Report

The validity of a report typically extends up to one year from the date of the survey. After this period, a new survey may be required to ensure the most current and accurate information about the bat roosts at the site.

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 a 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 – it’s imperative that you get started on a bat survey. 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 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.

Conclusion

Concluding, it’s crucial to emphasise the importance of bat surveys when planning any development. Not only do they meet the legal requirements protecting bats, but they also contribute to conservation efforts to maintain these species in the UK.

For comprehensive, reliable bat survey services, we recommend contacting Indigo Surveys. With their experienced team and rigorous methodologies, you can ensure the presence or absence of bats is accurately determined, and any necessary steps are taken to protect these valuable creatures.

Feel free to reach out to Indigo Surveys for a quote and any additional information you may require regarding bat surveys. Remember, your informed decisions today can contribute significantly to the conservation efforts of tomorrow.

Bat Survey – FAQs

What is a Bat Survey Season?

The season of a bat survey is a period in time in which it is most effective to conduct the bat survey. This is due to the heightened activity of bats during this time, meaning that the findings of the survey will very likely reflect the presence of bats.

What are the months that consist of a bat survey season?

During the months of, and between, May to September. During the colder months, bats often hibernate and are less likely to be detected, making surveys less accurate or informative. Therefore, scheduling bat surveys during the survey season is important for obtaining reliable results and complying with wildlife protection regulations.

How much does a bat survey cost? 

If you require a preliminary roost assessment then this amounts to around 1 day’s work and these start at £300 + VAT. Costs will depend on the number of 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 an ecologist who holds a bat licence, since the report could very well be rejected by the local authority on the basis that the report compiler is not competent enough. A bat licence essentially permits the holder to lawfully disturb bats safely. Any unlicensed person must retreat if they find bat droppings or roosting bats present, as per the law, a person must avoid disturbing bats.

With Indigo Surveys you can be sure that all of our bat surveys 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). Our bat surveyor will not let you down.

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. After all, English bats are protected under the conservation of habitats and species regulations.

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 the impact of the development (e.g. providing alternative roosts such as bat boxes or more significant roost spaces).

Bat surveys that are successful are awarded bat mitigation licence, also referred to as a bat mitigation class licence, by statutory nature conservation organisations.

How long does a bat survey take?

The length of a bat survey can vary depending on the size and complexity of the site. Typically, a survey could last between 2-3 hours, but for larger projects it might take several days.

Can I start my development work without a bat survey?

If there’s potential for bats to be present on your property, it’s essential to carry out a bat survey before beginning any development work. Bats are a protected species in the UK, and it’s illegal to disturb them or their roosts without a licence.

What qualifications should a bat surveyor have?

A competent bat surveyor should have a relevant degree, field experience, and ideally a licence from Natural England or an equivalent body. It’s crucial that they understand bat behaviour, conservation law, and survey techniques.

What is the difference between a daytime and a nighttime bat survey?

Daytime surveys involve inspecting the site for signs of bats or potential roosts. Night-time surveys, or emergence surveys, observe the property at dusk or dawn to see if bats are entering or leaving the site.

What are the penalties for harming bats or disturbing a roost?

Disturbing bats or their roosts can lead to a hefty fine, imprisonment, or both. Additionally, any planning permission or licence related to your development could be revoked.

What is a bat box?

A bat box is a man-made roosting space designed to encourage bats to occupy a certain area. They can be used as part of a mitigation strategy if your development impacts a natural roost.

Installing bat boxes.

Installing bat boxes should be done high off the ground, preferably on trees or buildings, away from bright lights and disturbances. They should also be sited to allow for a clear flight path for the bats. Professional advice is recommended to ensure correct installation.