Preliminary Bat Roost Assessments – Bat Ecologists in Kent (2021)
Bat Survey Kent: There are plenty of bats in Kent, and it only takes one to affect the progress of your development. Getting planning permission for a site that contains a bat roost isn’t easy, but it’s far from impossible. One thing you will need to satisfy your local authority’s development control department is a bat survey.
Kent is home to 14 of the 18 bat species native to the UK, ranging from the common pipistrelle to the greater horseshoe bat, an exceptionally rare species that recently returned to the county after an absence of over 100 years.
Local authorities are eager to protect them and reverse the decline we’ve seen in wildlife (including bats) over the last several decades. Dover District Council, in particular, have identified a need to go further than the legal protections offered by law and provisions in the Local Plan. Consequently, the council are working closely with partner organisations on the Kent Biodiversity Action Plan to set targets to expand the diversity of habitats.
Naturally, this will have implications for both developers and homeowners seeking to make the most of their site or property.
Bat habitats: Conservation, compensation and planning
Kent is growing, and the local authorities have made provisions for significant investment to support this growth in the coming years. A large amount of this investment will likely be targeted at infrastructure; with the Kent and Medway Growth and Infrastructure Framework predicting £16.4 billion will be needed to develop the county to its full potential.
More schools, roads, healthcare, and so on means further investment from the private sector in the form of business, jobs, and homes. With this in mind, Kent County Council and the other local authorities, like Sevenoaks, Canterbury and Maidstone will likely be quite open to reasonable planning applications.
However, it goes without saying that all developers must meet their legal obligations to protect and preserve the local fauna. Many of which are in place to reverse the dramatic decline in bats. Planners will also be balancing the benefits of proposed developments against policy frameworks laid out by the Local Plan and other, region-specific, initiatives to ensure that bat habitats are preserved or new habitats created as a condition of granting planning consent.
Ultimately, as Kent develops, urban centres will further intrude into the grassland, woodland, and coastline that dominate the countryside. Here you’ll find habitats that may have hosted bats for centuries. Interestingly, some of the bat species in Kent are not found in natural spaces at all. The county’s Serotine bat roosts, for example, have onlybeen found inside buildings.
Over 15,000 planning applications supported across 16 years
If you or the local authority recognise that your development potentially poses a risk to bat habitats, the first step is a scoping bat survey (also called a “preliminary roost assessment”, or “phase 1 bat survey”). These are diurnal i.e., take place during daylights hours. For this reason, they can be done year-round.
Fortunately, these are relatively straightforward. A bat surveyor will come to your site and inspect it for any evidence that bats are roosting in the area. They’ll look for things like animal carcasses, droppings, and natural or man-made features that would make a suitable habitat. As you’d expect, they’ll also look for bats.
Because it’s a ‘simple’ walkover survey, these can be done at any time of the year.
If they do find bats, evidence they’re there, or a suitable habitat, then your local authority will expect you to undertake another survey (called a “bat activity survey” or “emergence survey”) before they’ll grant planning permission. (If you want to learn more about bat emergence and activity surveys, visit our Instagram page @ask.arbtech where you can find tons of videos and explanations about what bat emergence surveys cost and when you can do them).
If you choose not to get a survey and bats or their habitats are present, or you undertake development in a way that is detrimental to the local bat population, there are serious consequences. Criminal prosecutions for breaching legislation put in place to protect bats are not unusual. The penalties range from severe to profound, and they’re not limited to fines. Simply put, you can be sent to prison if you harm bats or otherwise interfere with their habitats without the consent of the local authority. Recently in Greenwich, Bellway Homes was fined £600k for bat roost destruction.
And, of course, it’s a completely unnecessary risk to take, too; because in 16 years, not one of our clients has been refused planning permission on the basis of our advice. And at approximately 1/1250th of the cost of the fine; they could have had a survey done.
In fact, as of 2021, we’ve helped hundreds of clients in Kent alone solve their bat problems and get planning permission.
Here’s how we helped…
Arbtech – Bat survey Kent planning acceptance guarantee
Our bat consultants are the best in the business.
Every one of them is educated to bachelors or masters level and passes a rigorous in-house training program that exposes them to a wide variety of sites. They of course also possess the relevant licences (class I and II) from Natural England.
Better yet, most of our 30+ strong team work remotely. This means the bat surveyor that comes to your site will know exactly how things work in your region. It’ll probably be one of our Kent team: Craig Williams (senior consultant), Nicole Gullan, Fay Brotherhood or Josephine McCarthy (consultants). They’ll be well aware of the local interest groups that object to applications as a matter of course, and they’ll know the fine details of the policies the Kent local authorities use to make their planning determinations.
Speed is central to everything we do; our systems and processes are geared towards you getting you completed survey and report in a few days at most. If you’re really up against the clock, you can invest in a weekend appointment or even a next working day report.
Together this results in you getting the survey and advice you need so that your planning application gets planning permission, fast.
And if you take our recommendations on board, you will get planning permission or we’ll give you your money back.
Get a bat survey in Kent 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.
Bat Conservation Trust. 2019. Greater horseshoe bat rediscovered in Kent. [Online]. Available from: https://www.bats.org.uk/ [Accessed 26 January 2021]
Dover District Council. N.D. Protection of bats and other animals. [Online]. Available from: https://www.dover.gov.uk/ [Accessed 26 January 2021]
Kent Bat Group. N.D. Bats in Kent. [Online]. Available from: http://www.kentbatgroup.org.uk [Accessed 26 January 2021]
Kent County Council. N.D. Growth and Infrastructure Framework (GIF). [Online]. Available from: https://www.kent.gov.uk[Accessed 26 January 2021]