Derby’s Wildlife Habitat Suitability
At any point that roosting bats or bat roosts are found on a property or development site, it is likely that delays will ensue in the already potentially troublesome process of attempting to receive a successful planning application. Bats are one of many protected species in England, meaning that if any featured within a planning project in Derby or Derbyshire and the developer failed to arrange a bat survey, the repercussions could be catastrophic for both the individual at fault and the development itself. The presence of bats isn’t, however, insurmountable and it is perfectly plausible to move past bats on a development site as long as the developer has obtained a bat report and followed the mitigation advice.
Several factors can increase the chances of you encountering bats on your site. For example, if your development is close to the River Derwent, you are more likely to find bats or bat roosts because bats feed on the insects that are drawn to the water. As you go beyond the city limits and into the Derbyshire lowlands, you will start to see hedgerows that are often vital for bats and form an integral part of their habitat. Whilst ecological concerns factor into almost every planning decision, the Derby City Centre masterplan sets lofty development goals. The local authority is aiming to use £3.5 billion in investment to create 4,000 new jobs and build 1,900 new homes by 2030.
That said, it is unlikely that planning projects will be permitted at the expense of the environment, especially considering the city’s large conservation area. What constitutes acceptable mitigation if disturbance of the bats during the development is unavoidable will also be based on the rarity of the bat species and/or the quality of the habitat, and the significance of following provided mitigation and compensation measures cannot be stressed enough. For instance, a developer demolished a single bungalow in Ashover back in 2019, but as it was home to a group of common pipistrelle bats, the local rural crime team stepped in and took the developer in question to course.
Not only were the actions of the developer irresponsible and naive, but they were entirely avoidable, as they had already been told about the presence of bats after an ecologist completed a bat survey on the site prior to the development works. In simple terms, if you are worrying that a planning application will be refused as a result of bats, not having a bat survey and denying to involve yourself in compliance with recommendations from a bat surveyor will not solve the problem. As a matter of fact, it will make the situation far worse, and it has the ability to cause any number of issues in the development process.
Bats in the Local Vicinity
Various species of bat are prevalent throughout the county of Derbyshire, and in 2018, a local bat group went as far as finding bats scattered in numerous parts of the city. The results saw 554 records of bat sightings across 106 square kilometres of Derby, consisting of ten out of the total 12 bat species identified in Derbyshire during what remains the largest collective survey in the area to date.
Of the bats in Derbyshire, bat species include brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus), Brandt’s bats (Brandt’s bats), Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii), Natterer’s bats (Myotis nattereri), common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus).
Processes Designed to Protect Bats
Multiple local interest groups have a say in planning decisions, working with the local planning authority to advise on topics that they are experts in. When it comes to the matter of bats, the Derbyshire Bat Group (DBG) would be a suitable advisory body, routinely objecting to planning applications that don’t meet their criteria, reviewing planning policies involving bats, and generally helping with solving bat problems in the Derby and broader Derbyshire area
Other regulators and organisations support bats alongside the Derbyshire Bat Group, such as the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), Natural England, DEFRA and CIEEM. A selection of active laws sets the parameters for how bats and other European protected species are defined, managed and protected, namely in sections of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 Bat Surveys
In any situation where a development site has even a slight likelihood that it could contain a bat roost or habitat, bat surveys will be a mandatory next step, starting with a phase 1 survey known as a scoping survey or preliminary roost assessment (PRA). A fast and straightforward process that can be conducted all year round, the PRA involves an internal and external inspection of the site and every natural and man-made feature that could be perceived as a suitable roosting location for bats in the general vicinity.
Signs of bats on the site and in the surrounding habitat include bat carcasses, droppings and prey remains. If it transpires that bats are present and the development works are predicted to impact bats, it would be appropriate to arrange a phase 2 survey known as a bat activity survey or bat emergence and re-entry survey (BERS). Differences from a phase 1 survey include that a phase 2 survey includes more than one ecology consultant and can only be held in the summer months between May and September.
Bat activity surveys consist of several visits to the site at dusk and dawn to monitor the bats at suspected entry and exit points. Through the utilisation of highly specialised survey equipment, ecological consultants will be able to record echolocation calls and footage of the bats, giving them information about bat species and population numbers. Enough data should come from bat emergence and re-entry surveys so that no further surveys are needed and the local authorities are sufficiently satisfied.
In order to display all of the findings from the bat survey and demonstrate that mitigation and compensation measures have been assembled accordingly, the bat surveyor in charge of the assessment would put together a bat report. As well as the crucial information from the Derby bat surveys, the need for any further surveys and inspections can be outlined, and with every detail in one comprehensive document, the local planning authority should have everything needed to grant planning permission.
Book an Assessment for Your Proposed Works
The professional bat surveyors in our team collectively undertake hundreds of Derby bat surveys to gauge the impact bats have on planning projects all over the UK every year. Any time a bat survey is booked, we send out a local expert to the development site on a chosen date, and with their help, you are able to recognise how bats could affect your proposed works and vice versa before being given suitable mitigation measures that will enable continuation of the development.
Your ecological consultant will be supported by the superb office team at Arbtech, motivated by the fundamental aims of providing maximum speed, optimum efficiency, and the highest possible standard of service. You can request a free quote by visiting our contact page, calling us or emailing us. Not long after a bat survey has been completed on your site, you will receive your bat report, and it can then persuade your local planning authority in the planning decision regarding your development, leaving them with no remaining issues that could possibly halt planning permission.