Birmingham’s Level of Ecological Quality
No doubt due to the abundance of carefully managed green spaces including the seven major parks, Birmingham is known for plenty of rural areas, opening up opportunities for bats to utilise the natural environments for their home. The old slate roofs and gable ends that feature on the rows of terraces in Saltley, for instance, offer easy access to voluminous loft cavities. These dry, warm spaces make perfect winter homes for hibernating bats. Similarly, you will find plenty of bats inside the relics of Birmingham’s industrial past, like the old limestone mine on the grounds of Dudley Zoo.
As an attractive place to live and work, Birmingham City Council has rightly recognised the city’s biodiversity as critical to creating a high-quality environment. Due to this, your planning case officer will treat the promotion of biodiversity – including the management of protected species – as a material consideration when deciding whether or not to grant you planning consent. In simple terms, this means that they will first check that your planning project won’t harm bats or their habitats, and if it will, ask you to make alterations to enhance biodiversity.
Whilst the gravity placed upon the promotion of biodiversity might make it seem like the local authority is trying to make things difficult for developers and homeowners, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The ever-growing demand for housing and jobs means that Birmingham City Council are firmly behind development and regeneration as a means of meeting its obligations to the community. An example that the local council are open to development opportunities that remain within obligations to bats and biodiversity include the expansive six-acre site at Montague Street in Digbeth that will potentially deliver 1,000 new homes and 25,000 feet of employment space. On the other end of the spectrum, a Birmingham-based development business received a hefty penalty totalling £10,730 in fines, costs and confiscation of profits for destroying a single bat roost.
Through bats inhabiting Birmingham and corresponding areas, developers are required to question whether or not their development will impact buildings, trees or other roosting sites. If there’s any possibility that it will – no matter how insignificant that impact may seem – they have a legal obligation to avoid harming or otherwise disturbing bats throughout the project. Failing to meet these conditions may have serious consequences, such as a fine or even a prison sentence. Planning officers make determinations based on policy and evidence. Insofar as bats are concerned, a bat report from a bat survey will provide them with the evidence they need to defend their decision to grant you planning permission.
Native Roosting Bats
Of the 18 species of bat in circulation throughout the UK, 12 feature in and around Birmingham. The present bat species include the Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandti), brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentoni), Leisler’s bat (Nyctalus leisleri), lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros), noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula), common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), soprano pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus), and the whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus).
Parameters for Protecting Bats
Environmental management and regulation of bats are led by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), as well as relevant organisations such as Natural England and the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and the specific group designated to the chosen location. In the case of Birmingham, the Birmingham & Black Country Bat Group oversees the safeguarding of bats and bat roosts within the city and surrounding parts of the West Midlands.
Although it was originally established in 1985, Brum Bats – as the group is also known – re-launched in 2006 and has worked on indexing and protecting local bat populations ever since. A universal aim of all bat groups that Brum Bats also shares is an intention to raise awareness of the importance of conserving protected species such as bats, alongside a more unique goal to promote urban biodiversity.
Applicable Bat Surveys
For many developers, an early ecology survey to determine present ecological features and potential ecological constraints would be wise, such as an ecological impact assessment (EcIA) or preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA). After an EcIA or a PEA survey, further information about the development site will be available, including the likelihood of the occupancy of various protected species. From this point, the necessary protected species surveys can be ordered, such as a bat survey.
Alternatively, observations by the developer, someone else involved in the planning process or the local planning authority will prompt the suitable bat surveys. Either way, the first step for surveying a development site for bats would be a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA). Also known as bat scoping surveys, an ecological surveyor would conduct an extensive analysis of natural and man-made features for signs of bat occupancy, potentially including bat carcasses, roosts, remains of prey and roosting features.
The ecological consultant may decide that bats are not only present, but also likely to impact or be impacted by the development plans, and any time this is the case, further surveys will be needed in the form of a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS). Otherwise titled dusk entry and dawn re-entry surveys, a BERS involves several ecologists across a handful of visits to the site between dusk and dawn to note entry and exit points, echolocation calls, population sizes and bat species.
Unlike preliminary roost assessments that can be undertaken all year round, emergence surveys can only be held between the months of May and September, making it more vital that they are booked in advance. All of the data recorded from bat surveys and the appropriate mitigation will then be displayed in the bat survey report, and once passed on to the local authority, it will help to eliminate any issues that are standing between developers and successful planning applications.
Contact Our Team for a Quote Today
After many years of providing protected species surveys and other ecological surveys to support developments all over the country, Arbtech is perfectly placed to assist you with an assessment of roosting bats for your Birmingham project. One of the ecological consultants from our ecology team will go to the site on a chosen date and carry out the advised bat survey, taking into consideration all local ecological features and any ecological constraints that could negatively affect the planning process.
You can apply for a free quote from our team before committing to any of our bat survey services. All you need to do is check out our contact page, give us a call, or fill out our quote form at the top of this page. Using the specific details of your West Midlands site, we will send you an evaluation for a bat survey and any further surveys you may need, and after we’ve completed the assessments, you will receive your bat report that will be designed to help your planning application to the local planning authority.