Northamptonshire Features That Could Attract Bats
If your development is anywhere near flowing water like the River Nene in Northampton, the many nature reserves or a large body of standing water like a reservoir or lake, the probability of you encountering bats goes up significantly. As well as offering plenty of food, there’s usually an abundance of natural and man-made features in the county of Northamptonshire, like trees and bridges near water that provide a safe haven to bats, from the common pipistrelle bat to countless other species.
Bats are also increasingly attracted to using artificial structures as urban centres expand further and further into the countryside. Indeed, the loss of natural roosts means that man-made roosts are necessary for some bat species to survive. With this in mind, if your site has any buildings on it with hanging tiles, slate roofs, vents, chimneys or any other architectural feature that could conceivably crack, you could have a bat problem.
Obviously, this means that pretty much any building may well house a bat roost, but a general rule of thumb is that the older and more dilapidated the structure, the greater the likelihood that bats will be present. This doesn’t, however, mean that you won’t find bats in the loft of a new build that was only finished last year, for example. Due to this, it would be worth considering the potential need for a bat survey sooner rather than later, regardless of the circumstances of your development.
Bat-Friendly Development and Protection
The new local plan that was recently submitted to the government proposes a broad range of developments in the Northamptonshire area, including 18,000 new homes across multiple sites and major regeneration work in Northampton town centre. That said, it is important to note that the local planning authority won’t let developers or homeowners go through with schemes that are injurious to wildlife. Not only that, but developers that do press on without planning permission could face criminal charges.
All bats are protected by weighty legislation, and hurting bats without permission from the local authority and a proper mitigation licence can lead to the offender receiving a criminal record. In especially egregious cases, sanctions include an unlimited fine or even a prison sentence. In order to prevent this from happening, you may need a bat survey if your development is likely to impact Northamptonshire’s bat population.
No matter how trivial you may perceive the impact on bats to be, the local authority won’t give you planning consent unless they’re satisfied that you’ve met your legal obligations. A bat survey and report will give your planning case officer evidence to support a positive planning decision, and they are applicable to many different types of development, such as if you were demolishing a building. If you don’t give them this evidence, they simply cannot allow your development to move forwards.
Surveys to Support Bat Conservation
Either following a prior Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) or the observations of bats on a development site, bat surveys will be necessary, starting with the first step known as a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA). In a site visit, a thorough inspection will investigate whether any of the many species of bats are present, or if the development site or property has potential opportunities for bats to roost in the future.
Signs of bat occupancy include bat droppings, prey remains, bat roosts or features that could act as viable roosting locations. Providing the ecologist can categorically deny any likelihood of bats present, a bat report will reflect this and the developer should see no issue with planning applications. Alternatively, it will be proven or even suspected that bats are on the site, leading to the need for a Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS).
Unlike a flexible PRA that can be undertaken at any time, a Bat Emergence Survey is only viable between the months of May and September. During this period, several ecologists will conduct an assessment multiple times at dusk and dawn, using specialised equipment to record bats and determine bat species based on the specific bat calls. Data regarding entry and exit points will also be collected, and with it, the ecological consultant should have all the necessary information about bats on the site.
After all bat surveys, the ecological surveyor will compile the findings and evidence from the inspection in a bat survey report. Applying to both Preliminary Roost Assessments and Bat Emergence Surveys, reports for bat surveys will confirm the likely absence or presence of the protected species on the development site, detail mitigation measures that will allow the planning project to continue, and put forward a recommendation to the local planning authority to accept the planning application.
Contact Us About Bat Reports
Among our team are countless professional ecologists with the qualifications, training and licensing to perform European protected species surveys – such as bat surveys – to a suitably high standard. We provide coverage to all of the UK, enabling a wide selection of protected species surveys and other ecological and arboricultural assessments to your local area, including in Northamptonshire and connecting towns, cities and villages in the East Midlands.
You can gain access to a free quote that is reflective of your site and project by reaching out to us and providing us with information about your development. From there, we can work with your needs and suggest the appropriate bat surveys or other protected species surveys that will be required to secure a successful planning application. It is then up to you to return the no-obligation quote back to us to confirm that you intend on moving forwards.
Based on guidance from relevant regulators such as Natural England / Natural Resources Wales, we can then carry out a bat survey on your site and create bat reports for passing on to your local authority as part of the application for planning permission. Get the ball rolling by filling in our quick quote form, calling us directly or visiting our dedicated contact page, and we can work alongside you and the corresponding planning requirements to ease you into the next stage of the process.