Bat Surveys for Planning in Somerset and the South West

Do you need a bat survey to help you get planning permission in Somerset? Hundreds of 5-star reviews can’t be wrong: call Arbtech’s ecologists today.

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Remove Planning Objections for Somerset Developments with Expert Bat Surveys

The county of Somerset is located in the South West of England and is one of the largest English counties. With strong links to agriculture and the home of Glastonbury and Cheddar Cheese, Somerset possesses a multitude of environments including beaches, green countryside, lakes, woodlands and beyond. 

Mascalls Wood, Nutcombe Bottom and Blackdown Hills are just a few of the woodland and outdoor spaces in Somerset where you can enjoy walks and days out. As well as holding important local and cultural heritage, these are among the increasingly fewer and precious places for us all to reconnect with nature. 

Woodlands and How They Support Somerset’s Biodiversity

Woodlands are also an indispensable habitat for much of our native British wildlife, varying from flowers, insects, birds and bats.

The county is lucky enough to be host to 16 of the 17 breeding species of bat in the UK, even in more built-up environments like Bristol and Bath in North Somerset. Bat species alone in the area make up approximately one third of all the mammal species across the UK. 

The most common species of bat in Somerset are Pipistrelle Bats, Brown Long-Eared Bats and Daubenton’s Bats. The most uncommon are Lesser Horseshoe Bats, Grey Long-Eared Bats and Natterer’s Bats. 

Conservation Projects in the South West

Conservation sites like Mells Valley is a specially designated area of conservation for bats. The characteristics of the land consist of humid grassland, improved grassland and broad-leaved deciduous woodland – all of which are a perfect habitat for bats to thrive and a great food source for them. 

The valley in Southern England is selected on the basis of its exceptional breeding population of Greater Horseshoe Bats. The site is home to the maternity roost linked with the population compromising of roughly 12% of the UK’s Greater Horseshoe Bat population. The site is also a bat hotspot for hibernation. 

What Does All This Mean For Your Planning Application?

Bat habitats aren’t just limited to woodland areas. The many agricultural spaces, with barns and outhouses, also offer an ideal roosting environment. 

All UK bat species are protected by law under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations Act 2019 and Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 because their numbers have declined so dramatically. Their dwindling numbers are due to the loss of their feeding habitats and flight lines, a decrease of insects to feed on, and developments impacting roosts. 

Bats are becoming more dependant on urban habitats – you may even find one living in your loft space or roof cavity. 

Bat surveys in lofts in Bath and North Somerset
Our bat ecologist doing a bat survey in a loft in Bath, North Somerset

The Somerset Bat Group was formed in 1985 and helps protect bats in the county of Somerset. They also conduct the National Bat Monitoring Program ran by the Bat Conservation Trust and carry out regular field surveys. These surveys include the British Bat Survey that takes place between July and August and the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) Waterway Survey. 

If you have a project in Somerset requiting planning permission, then you will need to employ an ecologist to carry out the necessary ecological surveys and offer you guidance. All local planning authorities, including Somerset County Council, require bat surveys for you to be able to carry out any building or renovation work you have planned. 

Looking for Bats in Somerset: What Will Your Ecologist Actually Do?

Your first port of call if you were unaware of species present on the site would be Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEA), or if you expect the presence of bats on the site, a Preliminary Roost Assessment (also known as a phase 1 survey) – the first stage bat survey that allows a trained ecologist to search for bat roosts on the site as well as any indications of bat presence.

These signs include droppings (mouse-like in shape and colour but crumble under pressure), remains of bat prey, deep holes or cavities in trees or wall voids and small gaps on roofs for them to crawl into.

If an ecologist uncovers this evidence, a further survey will be required to confirm if there is a roost. As bats are livelier at dusk or dawn, it is highly unlikely that you will find one in the day when the phase 1 survey is carried out.

The phase 2 – or Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey (BERS) – carries more significant seasonal and ecological constraints, primarily that it must be conducted at dusk or dawn and solely between May and September. Here, the ecologist will conduct the survey using professional equipment such as thermal imaging and infrared cameras and an echolocation sound kit.

This is a direct observation of the suspected roost site in question (whether that is a roof void, structural feature or tree cavity) where your ecologist will monitor any bats coming and going. Once both bat surveys have been carried out, you will receive a report. A copy of this will need to be submitted to the local planning authority of your local council. The bat survey report will provide key mitigation advice so that your project can move forward.

Somerset Bat Group and Further Information

If you’re interested in learning more about the bat populations in Somerset and getting involved in monitoring, you could join the Somerset Bat Group on Facebook. Alternatively, you could contact our senior ecological consultant, Jonathan Stuttard, based in Bristol, or speak to Arbtech ecological surveyor, Dr James Fielding, who carries out a range of ecological surveys, bat surveys and protected species surveys in the area. Jonathan and James work throughout the South West and will be happy to offer you their expert advice.

The Next Steps: Get in Touch with Arbtech

If you need a bat survey in Somerset to get your project moving forward, then simply request a quote from our ecological consultancy by giving us a call or filling out the form at the bottom of this page. We’ve done hundreds of projects in Somerset, and offer bat surveys alongside other ecological surveys for protected species such as great crested newt surveys and reptile surveys in a significant body of water, for example, so we are ready to help.

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