Berkshire Bat Surveys: Reading, Windsor & Maidenhead, Newbury, Crowthorne and Ascot
Bat Survey Berkshire: If there’s a chance that your development could disturb bats or their habitats, you’re going to need a bat survey to support your planning application.
There’s simply no getting around this, and if you need a survey but don’t provide one, the local authority can refuse your planning application. In 2020, this happened to one developer who wanted to demolish a house in Caversham to make way for two new dwellings. Ecologists working for the local authority asked for a bat survey because the house was close to a cemetery and large trees (both of which make ideal habitats for Berkshires many bats). The developer failed to provide a bat report to support their application and, as a result, they were refused planning. (This information is in the public domain and is only one example of a great many).
This planning refusal could probably have been avoided had they only provided a bat report that contained detailed mitigation measures. This is because Reading City Council’s core strategy indicates that the local authority is eager to deliver on the growing housing requirement. In fact, a need for 16,077 new homes by 2036 has been identified in Reading alone. The need for housing is just as profound elsewhere in Berkshire; with one study determining a need for 4,900 new homes per year, every year, until 2036 to meet demand.
However, despite the pressing need for housing, regeneration and other development around Berkshire, planning Case Officers won’t allow development at the expense of biodiversity, especially where protected species like bats are concerned. Ultimately, it’s a balancing act, and the information in your bat survey can help you get planning consent whilst maximising your development opportunities.
Berkshire bat habitats and planning permission
14 of the 18 bat species native to the UK are found in Berkshire, and many of these species are present in reasonable numbers. This isn’t surprising as Berkshire is host to a variety of habitats, from the thick woodland of Bracknell Forest to the waterways of the Rivers Loddon and Thames. Unfortunately, many of these natural spaces are suffering, and habits are being lost to agriculture and urbanisation.
Local authorities are looking to address this decline and protect and preserve biodiversity in 2021 and beyond. Insofar as the planning system is concerned, there’s an expectation that developers should do what they reasonably can to promote biodiversity in line with the Berkshire Biodiversity Action Plan. As you’d expect this will apply to both urban and rural developments regardless of whether or not they’re in a conservation area (though sites in conservation areas will be subject to more stringent appraisal).
Failing to meet your obligations to the local bat population and their habitats carries steep penalties. At the lower end, as mentioned earlier, your planning application will be refused. This can lead to disruptions that cost significant amounts of time and money. If you go ahead anyway or mislead the local authority in your planning application and subsequently harm bats and you could be sent to prison for up to 6 months, receive an unlimited fine, or both.
Hundreds of 5 Star Reviews – Ecological Consultants in Berkshire
If you, or the local authority, determine that it’s reasonably likely that your site contains a bat roost or potential habitat, the first step is to book a phase 1 bat survey (you might have heard this called a scoping survey or preliminary roost assessment).
Fortunately, a scoping survey is both fast and straightforward. In brief, a specialist bat surveyor will visit your site and search for bats. If they find them (or evidence that they’re there), the local authority will ask you to have another, more detailed survey. The same is true if your bat surveyor finds a robust habitat, defined by the Bat Conservation Trust’s 2016 ‘Guidelines for Professional Ecologists.’
This second survey is called a phase 2 bat survey, also known as a bat emergence survey or bat activity survey. These surveys go into more depth and can also only be carried out between May and September inclusive as this is when the bat population is most active. If your site has a particularly high potential for roosting or there is a confirmed roost in situ, you’ll probably need two to three surveys, spaced several weeks apart. This will allow your surveyor to get enough information to propose sufficiently detailed compensatory or mitigating measures to satisfy the local authority and get you planning permission.
And you will get through planning because getting people with bat problems through planning is what we do. As of 2020, we’re working on somewhere in the region of 3,000 projects a year.
Our bat reports have helped hundreds of people in Berkshire, Reading and Windsor alone get planning permission for their developments. And if our advice doesn’t get you planning consent, we’ll give you your money back: no questions asked!
Your expert bat surveyors: Rapid, Reliable, Local
Your survey will be managed by a local expert (one of our full time ecology team) from start to finish.
Our 30+ strong team of bat experts can reach every corner of the country, thanks to a powerful and efficient home-working setup. This means you can enjoy the fast, reliable service that only a national operator can provide without losing out on that all-important local knowledge.
Understanding the policies local authorities in Berkshire use make their planning decisions, and awareness of the special interest groups that routinely object to any and all developments can make or break your planning application. With Arbtech, you can be sure your bat expert will arrive at your site having undertaken bat surveys in Berkshire for years. Their hard-won local expertise will dramatically cut down on the time it takes for them to complete your report, without compromising on detail or accuracy.
Together this results in you getting the bat report and advice you need to get planning consent, fast.
Get a bat survey in Berkshire with comprehensive advice you can trust
If you want your bat survey to be managed by a local expert and contain all the advice you need to get planning permission – choose Arbtech.
Andrews, C. 2013. Bats in Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire [Online]. Available from: http://www.berksbats.org.uk/ [Accessed 27th January 2021].
BBC. 2015. A study finds Berkshire needs to build almost 5,000 new homes every year until 2036. [Online]. Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/ [Accessed 27th January 2021]
Bracknell Forest Council. N.D. Biodiversity Action Plan 2018 to 2023. [Online]. Available from: https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/ [Accessed 27th January 2021].
Reading City Council. N.D. Housing Strategy for Reading 2020-2025. [Online]. Available from: https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/ [Accessed 27th January 2021]
Seabrook, A. 2020. Planning round-up: From changes at Tesco to bats putting stop to home build plans. [Online]. Available from: https://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/ [Accessed 27th January 2021]
West Berkshire County Council. 2012. Core Strategy Development Plan Document: Our overall planning strategy and policies to 2026. [Online] Available from: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/ [Accessed 27th January 2021]