East Sussex Bat Surveyors – Crowborough, Wealden, Hastings, Lewes, Eastbourne
If you’re looking to develop a site in East Sussex; you may well need a bat survey before the local authority grants you planning permission.
With ancient woodland and lush habitats in abundance, it’s little wonder that all of the UK’s 17 breeding species of bat are found in Sussex. However, climate change and creeping urbanisation have led to the steady loss of habitats throughout the UK, and East Sussex is no exception.
That said, there is a pressing need for development within the county. The East Sussex Environment Strategy makes specific reference to an estimated 10% increase in population by 2032, along with a 14% increase in the number of households (as persons per household decline). This growth alone will require the construction of 2,000 new homes per year in the county, together with all the associated infrastructure.
Clearly, a balance needs to be struck between the development needs of the community, and the natural environment that wildlife needs to thrive. Therefore, the presence of bats on your site will have a material impact on how your local authority treats your planning application.
But do you even need a bat survey?
The simple answer to this question is “we don’t know”; the only organisation that can provide the definitive advice you need is your local authority. So, please get in touch with them as soon as possible if you think there could be bats on your site.
There’s a good reason for this urgency. Some bat surveys (known as phase two bat surveys or bat emergence surveys) can only be completed between May and September. So, if you don’t plan ahead, you could face a costly delay to your development plans.
While we’re not in a position to comment about your specific development plans, we can say that certain structural and ecological features should make you start thinking about bats.
For example, if your site is near a body of water like the Buckshole Reservoir in Hastings, the likelihood of encountering bats increases. This is because bats are regularly found foraging the abundant supply of insects that are drawn to bodies of water. Similarly, bats favour the grid-like street layout in Eastbourne and the county’s other seaside towns because the predictable patterns facilitate navigation by echolocation. Add in an abundance of bat-friendly roosting features like slate roofs and gable ends (of which there are many in these towns), and you have an ideal habitat.
There are plenty of other features that can increase the likelihood of bats being present on or near your development so, again, get in touch with your local authority if you need advice.
It’s worth noting that the local authorities are keen to preserve and enhance ecological features that support wildlife – including bats. For instance, Lewes District Council partnered with a local golf club to restore a habitat that was lost when 30 trees were felled. At a time when local authority budgets are shrinking, this is further evidence that ecological concerns really are high on the agenda.
Sustainable development in East Sussex
As for development, there’s lots of opportunity throughout the county. Two applications for large developments near Crowborough, containing up to 150 and 130 houses, were recently approved by Wealden District Council.
Smaller developments are also benefitting from the local authorities forward-thinking attitude towards sensible, sustainable planning applications. In the Lewes District Council catchment, a revolutionary modular housing development that uses a cutting-edge combination of solar panels and batteries to go “off the grid” for three or four months a year is ready to go.
That said, local Planners are not going to grant planning consents for developments that actively harm protected species. The good news is, Planning Officers make decisions based on policy and evidence. And this is why you need a bat report if your development is likely to disturb bats or damage their roosts.
To simplify what can be a complex and somewhat opaque process; individual Planners have to be able to defend their decisions to grant planning permission. This is always the case, but when protected species like bats are involved, they need even more robust evidence to support their decision. This is because they, like you, have a legal obligation to protect bats and other endangered species.
Speaking of legal obligations, harming bats or their habitats without permission is a criminal offence. The sanctions available to the authorities range from the severe to the profound and include an unlimited fine or even imprisonment.
Therefore, if you have a bat problem, you must supply the planning Case Officer with the professional survey they need to grant you planning permission.
Bat Surveys for planning permission
Fortunately, bat surveys are a relatively straightforward exercise.
In cases where there are no bats and only low-quality habitats, your bat report alone (so long as it has been completed by a specialist bat surveyor) will be enough to secure planning permission.
These Phase 1 bat surveys (also known as preliminary roost assessments or scoping surveys) are simple and won’t cause much if any disruption to your schedule. In brief, a licenced bat surveyor will visit your site to look for bats and check for habitats. In these instances, the report may or may not contain compensatory or mitigating measures you need to put in place.
However, if your bat ecologist finds bats, evidence they’re there at some point in the year, or substantial habitats the local authority will likely ask you for further surveys.
These Phase 2 surveys go by a variety of names and you might have heard them referred to as bat emergence surveys, bat activity surveys or dusk-dawn bat surveys. You can only have one of these between May and September, which is why it is vital to plan ahead and get a bat surveyor involved early.
Your East Sussex Bat Ecologists
Choose Arbtech, and you can be sure that your bat report will contain all the information and advice you need to get planning, first time.
How do we know?
Because as of 2021, our bat reports have helped around 15,000 people get planning permission for their developments up and down the UK.
In the 16 years we’ve been in business we’ve seen just about every bat-related planning issue you could think of, and our 30+ strong team has come up with the solution.
We’re so confident that you’ll get planning based on our advice that if you don’t, we’ll give you your money back.
Our team of bat ecologists all have bachelors or masters degrees, and they all go through (and pass) our demanding in-house training program. Therefore, the licenced bat surveyor who visits your site will have the expertise to get you through planning, whether you’re extending your home in the countryside or heading up a large urban development.
Most of our people work from home, this means your bat specialist will have lived and worked in and around East Sussex for years, if not decades. You’ll benefit from their firm grasp of the planning policies used by the East Sussex councils, and an awareness of the local interest groups who routinely object to planning applications.
All this comes together to ensure you get planning permission, fast.
Get a bat survey in East Sussex with a planning acceptance guarantee
If you want your bat survey to be managed by a local specialist and contain all the advice you need to get planning permission (or your money back), choose Arbtech.
East Sussex County Council. 2020. Environment Strategy 2020. [Online]. Available from: https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Logan, J. 2020. Plans to restore Cuilfail habitat after more than 30 mature trees felled. [Online]. Available from: https://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/politics/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Macfarlane, I. N.D. Newhaven gets new modular housing development. [Online]. Available from: https://www.showhouse.co.uk/news/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Norris, G. 2020. Going Bats in Sussex. [Online]. Available from: https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/news/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Oxburgh, H. 2020. Pair of large Crowborough housing developments approved. [Online]. Available from: https://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/(Accessed 11th February 2021)