Birmingham Bat Surveyors: planning permission specialists
Arbtech are local bat surveyors in Birmingham: If you want to develop a site or demolish a building in Birmingham, you may need a bat survey. If the local authority are concerned that there may be bats on or near your site you don’t demonstrate to the contrary, your planning application could be refused.
You’ll find 12 of the UK’s 18 species of bat in Birmingham and the Black Country. No doubt due to the abundance of carefully managed green spaces (including the 7 major parks). But bats don’t only make their home in natural environments. The old slate roofs and gable ends that feature on the rows of terraces in Saltley offer easy access to voluminous loft cavities. These dry, warm spaces make perfect winter homes for hibernating bats. Similarly, you’ll find plenty of bats inside the relics of Birmingham’s industrial past like the old limestone mine in the grounds of Dudley Zoo.
With this in mind, you’re probably keen to know if you need a bat survey.
You can either watch this video or continue reading! Ultimately, this is a question of whether or not your development will impact on buildings, trees, or other roosting sites. If there’s any possibility that it will – no matter how insignificant that impact may seem – you have a legal obligation to avoid harming or otherwise disturbing bats throughout your project. If you fail to meet these obligations, there are serious, criminal consequences. Several years ago, a Birmingham-based development business received a hefty penalty for destroying bat roost totalling £10,730 in fines, costs, and confiscation of profits. Fines aren’t the only penalty you could face if you harm bats as the law makes provisions for imprisonment in extreme cases.
This isn’t a risk worth taking because, as of 2021, we’ve helped around 15,000 people solve their bat problems and secure planning permission. Now, a bat survey isn’t ‘cheap’, but the cost of a bat report is a fraction of what you might expect to pay in fines (as well as all the other personal, professional, and other financial costs that come with having a criminal record).
Planning applications and promoting Birmingham’s bat habitats
Birmingham City Council has rightly recognised the city’s biodiversity as critical to creating a high-quality environment that makes Birmingham an attractive place to live and work. Therefore, your planning Case Officer will treat the promotion of biodiversity (including the management of protected species) as a material consideration when deciding whether or not to grant you planning consent. In simple terms, this means they’ll first check that your project won’t harm bats or their habitats. Then they’ll look to see if your plan is of some benefit to the local bat population. In some cases, this isn’t possible. But if it is, the chances are the local authority will ask you to do something to enhance the biodiversity on your site.
Whilst the gravity placed upon the promotion of biodiversity might make it seem like the local authority are trying to make things difficult for developers and homeowners, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The ever-growing demand for housing and jobs means Birmingham City Council are firmly behind development and regeneration as a means of meeting their obligations to the community. For example, the expansive, 6.02-acre site at Montegue Street in Digbeth will potentially deliver 1,000 new homes and 25,000 feet of employment space. Proof, if anything, that Birmingham offers development opportunities in abundance – so long as developers and homeowners meet their obligations to bats and biodiversity.
Planning Officers make determinations based on policy and evidence. Insofar as bats are concerned, your bat report will provide them with the evidence they need to defend their decision to grant you planning permission.
Your bat survey will include critical information about the species of bats on or near your site, their numbers, habitats, and more. Your bat surveyor will then use the information they’ve gathered to determine what, if any, measures you need to put in place to protect the local bat population. The planning Case Officer will then review your report along with your application and make a decision (which, if you choose Arbtech, will be in your favour – or your money back).
This is also why the local authority will refuse your application if they determine that you need one, and you don’t instruct a competent (aka Natural England licenced) ecologist to submit a report.
If you determine that you need a bat survey, or the local authority asks you to obtain one, there are two types of bat report to consider:
- Preliminary Roost Assessment (also known as a walkover bat survey or scoping bat survey)
- Phase II (sometimes referred to as an emergence bat survey or nocturnal bat survey)
Unsurprisingly, your first port of call will be a preliminary roost assessment. This involves a licenced bat surveyor coming to your site and undertaking an internal and external inspection of your buildings. This can be done at any time of the year, and its principal aim is to exclude the presence of the set of ‘triggers’ for a Phase II bat survey:
- The presence of bats
- Evidence of their activity
- Access to potential roosts
If there are bats on your site, or there’s a good chance they are roosting or could roost at some point in the year, you’ll need to propose mitigation to prevent a loss of habitat. However, it’s nearly impossible to decide what constitutes appropriate mitigation without more information. This is why the local authority will, in these instances, ask you to conduct further surveys.
These emergence surveys can only be conducted between May and September as bats hibernate through the winter months and are less active in the spring and autumn. Therefore, it’s crucial to plan ahead and book your bat survey early to avoid significant delays to your development schedule.
Birmingham’s #1 bat ecologists – More people across the West Midlands than any other consultancy
If you need a bat survey for a small extension in Dudley, or to get planning consent for a large development in the city centre, it will be handled by one of our specialist bat surveyors.
Melissa, Louise, Chris, Matt and Max really are the best in the business. They’re all licenced bat surveyors and are educated to bachelors or masters level. They’ve also passed our rigorous in-house training program that exposes them to a broad range of urban, suburban, and rural sites.
But whilst book-smarts and practical experience are vital, if you have a bat problem and want to get through planning first-time, you need more. That’s why our ecologists are local professionals. They all have a clear understanding of the policies and procedures Birmingham City Council use to make planning decisions, the local ecology, and those special interest groups who routinely object to applications that impact biodiversity.
Our bat surveyors don’t mess around either. We want to keep your development on-track just as much as you do, which is why you’ll be waiting two or three days at most for your completed survey and report… Or, if you’re really against the clock, you can invest in a paid upgrade for a next working day report or weekend survey.
Get a bat survey in Birmingham with comprehensive advice you can trust
If you want your survey to be handled by a local specialist and contain all the advice you need to get planning permission (or your money back), fast – choose Arbtech.
Barkham, P. 2016. Record fines for UK property developer who destroyed bat roost. [Online]. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ [Accessed 5th February 2021]
Birmingham City Council. N.D. Parks. [Online]. Available from: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/parks [Accessed 5th February 2021]
Birmingham City Council. N.D. What are biodiversity and geodiversity. [Online]. Available from: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/ [Accessed 5th February 2021]
Hughes, M. 2017. Bats of the ‘Burbs: Studying bats on the urban fringe. [Online]. Available from: https://insideecology.com/ [Accessed 5th February 2021]
PBCtoday. 2020. Major development scheme for Birmingham gets green light. [Online] https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/ [Accessed 5th February 2021]
The Birmingham and Black Country Bat Group. N.D. The Bats of Birmingham and the Black Country. [Online]. Available from: https://www.brumbats.org.uk/bats [Accessed 5th February 2021]