West Sussex Bat Surveys across Portsmouth, Worthing and Brighton
If you’re looking to construct or demolish a building in West Sussex and there’s any chance that bats are on or near your development at any point in the year; you’ll need a bat survey to get planning permission.
Bats are a West Sussex wildlife staple. In fact, you can find all of the UK’s 18 species in Sussex. However, although they’re relatively common compared to some other parts of the country, bats in West Sussex are still protected by the same legislation as anywhere else in the UK. So, if you do have bats on your site, this may have implications for your development.
What are those implications?
It’s impossible to say for certain in an article like this, because every development and the number and type of bats affected by the scheme will be different. The only people that can give you the definitive answers you’re looking for will be the ecology consultee for your local planning authority.
Therefore, if you’re in any doubt as to whether or not you need a bat survey at all, or if you’re not sure what bat report is right for your scheme, get in touch with them as soon as possible. If you don’t, you run the risk of your planning application being refused. Or, if it turns out you need a bat emergence survey, you could experience a costly (and needless) delay to your development schedule as phase 2 bat surveys can only be carried out between May and September.
Bats and your development
Whilst we can’t say whether you need a bat survey or not, we can say that certain features increase the likelihood that bats are roosting on your site or using it for hunting and foraging.
As far as buildings are concerned, bats like to squeeze into spaces that are warm and dry. A classic example of this would be bats using gaps in slate roofs to get into and then roost in loft spaces. This sort of construction is regularly seen in seaside towns like Brighton and Worthing, with their rows of hundred-plus-year-old terraces. Naturally, their age means their roofs will be of varying quality, with gaps in the slate common. This makes them an attractive proposition for the local bat population.
Bats also roost in natural features like the hollows of large trees, so as the quantity of trees increases so too does the possibility that bats are present. This will be particularly relevant for schemes further inland amongst the rural towns and villages that dot the West Sussex countryside.
Some schemes may come up against a combination of both, particularly in suburban areas of towns like Crawleybecause you’re likely to encounter a combination of bat-friendly manmade and natural features. For example, if you were looking to develop a site near the Horn Brook in Horsham, you would be wise to consider bats as the area is rich in bat-friendly habitats.
Because the water attracts insects that bats readily feed on, there are plenty of hedgerows to aid navigation, and there are numerous buildings that likely contain features suitable for roosting.
Building a bat-friendly West Sussex
There are plenty of development opportunities in West Sussex. Nine strategic sites are being considered in the upcoming Horsham local plan alone. Brighton and Hove City Council have also put a housing demand action plan in place to support the delivery of new homes to combat the spiralling cost of property and rent in the city.
Obviously, this is excellent news for development companies and investors. Homeowners will likely benefit from this forward-thinking attitude to planning and development too because it indicates a positive stance towards sensible planning applications.
That said, the chances of a planning Case Officer granting planning consent for a scheme that actively harms the local bat population are slim to none. Unfortunately, there’s no getting away from the fact that having bats on your site will likely disrupt your scheme to a greater or lesser degree. A developer in Portsmouth who sought to demolish an old primary school experienced this when the project was paused after droppings were found and bats were spotted on the site.
However, if bats are found, it’s not necessarily game over; there are measures you can put in place to mitigate for the loss of habitat and avoid disturbing roosts. Works at Decoy Farm near Worthing are underway to care for the variety of protected species living on the site, and they included measures to safeguard foraging and commuting bats.
But without a detailed bat report, the local authority can’t be confident that you have met your legal obligations to the local bat population. As a result, they’ll be unable to grant you planning permission.
West Sussex Bat Surveyors
There are two broad categories of bat survey. Phase 1 bat surveys (you might have heard these called walkover bat surveys or preliminary roost assessments), and phase two bat surveys (also known as nocturnal bat surveys or dusk dawn bat surveys).
Phase 1 bat surveys are a relatively straightforward exercise that can be carried out at any point in the year. A licenced bat surveyor will come to your site and look for bats and evidence of their activity. They’ll also examine potential habitats. The good news is, if they don’t find any evidence that bats are present and any potential habitats are of low quality, the phase one bat report alone will usually satisfy your Planning Officer.
However, if they find bats or your site contains rich habitats, the local authority will probably ask you for further surveys. These can only be carried out between May and September and are much more in-depth because your surveyor will have to gather enough information to recommend the suitable mitigation or compensation you need to get planning consent.
That said, if you do need a phase two bat survey, you really shouldn’t worry about getting planning permission if you choose us.
Because, in 16 years, we’re yet to encounter a bat problem we couldn’t solve.
But to give you extra reassurance, if our bat advice doesn’t get you planning permission when you follow it to the ‘t’ – we’ll give you your money back.
Why are we so confident?
Simply put, our bat ecologists are the best in the business.
Every member of our 30+ strong team has a bachelors or masters degree, and they’ve passed a rigorous in-house training program that exposes them to all manner of sites. They’re also licenced by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.
Better yet, your bat surveyor will be a local expert.
Arbtech operates on a national scale, but most of our people work from home. This means we can employ local bat specialists (not subcontractors) who have detailed knowledge of West Sussex’s unique ecological features. They’ll also know all about the local special interest groups who routinely object to planning applications and be conversant with the planning policies used by the various local authorities across the county.
We work fast too, so, if you need a walkover bat survey, you’ll only be waiting a few days for your survey and report. Obviously, bat emergence surveys can only be done in the summer months, so be sure to get in touch with us earlyas our slots book up rapidly.
All this comes together to give you the bat survey you need to secure planning permission, first time, fast.
Get planning permission in West Sussex fast with Arbtech
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.
Brighton and Hove City Council. 2019. Housing Delivery Action Plan. [Online]. Available from: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Fatkin, N. 2020. Demolition of former Arundel Court Primary school in Portsmouth could be delayed after bats spotted and droppings found. [Online]. Available from: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Hollisey-Mclean, K. 2021. Wildlife from former Worthing landfill site moved to new homes. [Online]. Available from: https://www.worthingherald.co.uk/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Horsham District Council. N.D. Read a summary of the Draft Local Plan. [Online]. Available from: https://www.horsham.gov.uk/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)
Sussex Wildlife Trust. 2015. Which bats might I see in my garden? [Online]. Available from: https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/ (Accessed 11th February 2021)