Bat Surveyors in Surrey – Guildford, Mole Valley, Elmbridge, Waverley, Woking, Surrey Heath, Reigate, Tandridge, Epsom & Ewell
If you’re planning a development scheme in Surrey; you may need a bat survey before the council gives you planning permission.
You’ll find bats all over Surrey, from rural settings like the grand halls of Polesden Lacey near Dorking (by itself home to 14 of the UK’s 18 bat species) to commuter towns like Woking and Waverly. Bats are protected species, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the interests of the local bat population will always be a considered by your planning Case Officer as they review your planning application.
This does beg the question of whether you need a bat survey. Unfortunately, this isn’t a question we can answer because every scheme is different. However, your local authority can give you the definitive “yes” or “no” you’re looking for. If you’re not sure, the best thing to do is to get in touch with them as soon as possible, if not right away. This urgency isn’t without good reason – some bat reports (known as phase 2 bat surveys) can only be carried out between May and September. Leave it too late, and you could experience a costly delay to your development.
That said, we can say that some sites have features on or near them that bats find particularly attractive. For example, if your site in near any of the rivers and streams that criss-cross the Tandridge district you’re more likely to encounter bats. This is because these waterways draw plenty of insects so provide a stable source of food for foraging bats. These bats roam further than you might think, so even if your site isn’t adjacent to water it could still contain a roost. Urban centres can also play host to bats, especially towns like Reigate that feature golf courses, commons and green spaces. Speaking of Reigate, a planning application for a crematorium in the town was amended following a consultation to include low-level lighting to reduce the impact the building has on bats.
As you’d expect, these two examples are far from exhaustive. So, again, speak to your local authority to get the up to date, tailored information you need to make a decision.
Developing Surrey for the future
Surrey, like much of the UK, is facing a housing shortage. One that’s no doubt worsened by its proximity to the capital and the knock-on effect this has on house prices and cost of living. Surrey is also uniquely green, and whilst the benefits of this to local wildlife are legion, it does make development a little more difficult. Take Tandridge, where 94% of the land is classed as green belt. As a result, a serious housing shortfall has been forecast with estimates indicating that there will be up to 200 more families looking for homes than there are properties available by 2041.
Elmbridge is another district that has to contend with a rapidly rising population and the associated pressure on housing need and infrastructure. Here, local residents have expressed a desire to protect the green belt; and the local authority has responded by implementing a spatial strategy that aims to accommodate all development within existing urban areas.
Central Government has taken note of this growing need for housing. Consequently, some councils are set to have their planning powers limited for failing to meet the Governments housing delivery test. In Surrey, Epson & Ewellperformed particularly poorly, delivering only 34% of the homes Central Government estimated were needed to meet demand in the past 3 years.
Whilst there are significant challenges facing developers and homeowners alike, there are many opportunities for development in the county. A major development firm identified Surrey Heath as one of the five areas that are primed for investment and construction based on a combination of housing demand, affordability, and amenities, among other things. Elsewhere in the county, things do seem to be moving in a positive direction. For instance, a large build to rent scheme in Mole Valley that includes 214 dwellings (including 36 affordable rented homes) is on the way.
Bat surveys – your responsibilities
Even though the need for housing and infrastructure is growing at lightning speed, the local authorities cannot permit development at the expense of the local bat population. Planners, like you, have a legal obligation towards protected species. As a result, if bats are discovered either before or during development, you need a plan to manage them. This will involve a bat survey.
One example of this approach in action is the University of Surrey’s planning application to demolish their Guildford Court accommodation blocks and replace them with a teaching centre. However, this block is a known bat habitat, so works will have to wait until a phase two bat survey has been completed in the summer and mitigation is agreed upon with the relevant authorities.
The surveys themselves come in two varieties, phase one bat surveys and phase two bat surveys.
First, you have phase 1 bat surveys (also known as preliminary bat roost assessments or scoping surveys). They involve a licenced bat surveyor visiting your site at any point in the year to look for bats and examine your site for habitats. In these instances, the report may or may not contain compensatory or mitigating measures you need to put in place.
If your bat ecologist finds bats, evidence they’re there at some point in the year, or reasonably 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 nocturnal bat surveys.
Many people see bat surveys as an unwanted expense and inconvenience. Be that as it may, you still have a legal duty to protect any bats or habitats affected by your development. If you don’t, you could face an unlimited fine or even a prison sentence.
This really isn’t a risk that’s worth taking, either.
Because as of 2021, we’ve helped somewhere in the region of 15,000 people solve their bat problem and secure planning permission.
In the 16 years we’ve been operating, we’ve seen pretty much every bat-related issue you could think of. As for the few scenarios we haven’t encountered (and no doubt there’s one or two) our 30+ strong team of specialist bat surveyors means we have the knowledge pool to come up with a solution that gets you through planning. If you follow that solution to the “t”, you will get planning.
And if it doesn’t?
We’ll give you all of your money back.
No questions. No quibbles.
We’re so confident because our bat ecologists really are the best around.
They’ve all got bachelors or masters degrees and have gone through (and passed) our demanding in-house training program that exposes them to a broad range of sites.
If you’ve got a single pipistrelle hibernating in a barn by the River Mole that you want to convert. Or, you’re contending with maternity colony of Daubenton’s bats on your brownfield site in Camberley, our licenced bat surveyors have the expertise you need to get planning permission, first time.
Get a bat survey in Surrey with comprehensive advice you can trust
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.
Elmbridge Borough Council. 2011. Elmbridge Core Strategy. [Online]. Available from: https://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/ (Accessed 12th February 2021)
Gouk, A. 2019. The Surrey district where house building just cannot keep up with demand. [Online]. Available from: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/ (Accessed 12th February 2021)
Heath, L. 2021. More than 50 councils to get planning powers curbed following latest Housing Delivery Test results. [Online]. Available from: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/ (Accessed 12th February 2021)
Lane, M. 2020. Revealed – the UK’s top five areas for development identified by Knight Frank. [Online]. Available from: https://www.propertyinvestortoday.co.uk/ (Accessed 12th February 2021)
National Trust. N.D. Listening out for bats at Polesden Lacey. [Online]. Available from: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/(Accessed 12th February 2021)
O’Brien, C. 2021. Reigate residents label crematorium plans ‘terrible’ despite council revisions. [Online]. Available from: https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/ (Accessed 12th February 2021)
PBC Today. (2020). Committee resolution secured for build-to-rent scheme in Mole Valley. [Online]. Available from: https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/ (Accessed 12th February 2021)