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Bat Survey in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire – Planning Success Guaranteed

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Bat surveyors in Buckinghamshire – get Planning Permission or Your Money Back

Sometimes, you’ll need a bat survey before you can get planning permission, especially in Buckinghamshire. Any fo the local authorities could ask you for a survey and report if they feel that there is a risk of bats being displaced by your plans. Though the exact justification will vary,, perhaps relating to the age or type of construction of your property, they all have one thing in common – your development is likely to negatively impact the local bat population.

Bats are widespread throughout Buckinghamshire, and the county hosts a diverse range of species; From the ubiquitous common pipistrelle to the vanishingly rare barbastelle. However, no matter how common any particular species is, all bats are protected by weighty legislation. Therefore, you won’t be surprised to read that the local authorities are doing everything they can to create an environment where Buckinghamshire’s bats can survive and thrive.

Depending on where your development is, and what you’re planning to do, this may have implications for your planning application. Consequently, there is a question of whether or not you need a bat survey. It’s a vital question to ask because if the answer is yes, it might affect your development schedule.

Why?

Because certain bat surveys (known as phase two bat surveys or nocturnal bat surveys) can only be carried out between May and September. If you need one of these bat reports but miss this window, you’ll have to wait months until the next survey season.

The good news is that there is a definitive answer to this question – but you won’t find it here. The only body competent to give you the firm, clear “yes” or “no” answer you need is your local planning authority. Therefore, it’s sensible to get in touch with them as soon as possible if you think you might need a bat report.

All that aside, what we can say is certain features on or near your site increase the chance that you’ll find bats. Similarly, some activities are more likely to be disruptive to the local bat population than others.

Bat friendly natural and architectural features common in Buckinghamshire

When considering whether your site is likely to contain bats or roosts, the local geography can be quite telling. Watercourses like the River Wye that runs through High Wycombe or smaller streams, ponds and ditches are very attractive to bats for a few reasons. They provide plenty of food in the form of small insects that swarm over the water, any trees make excellent shelter, and the hedgerows and banks aid navigation by echolocation. It’s worth keeping in mind that your site needn’t be adjacent to water to play host to one or more bats. Bats range surprisingly far, so just being near water should alert you to the possibility of a bat problem.

Bats also tend to favour a blend of urban and natural features, as you’ll find in Milton Keynes. Interestingly, a major developer seeking to build 73 new homes in the town has been asked to put several measures in place to protect the local bat population, including the exceedingly rare barbastelle. These proposed measures will affect the street light design and involve planting 110 metres of species-rich hedgerow.

Development schemes that could harm Buckinghamshire’s bats

As mentioned above, some development schemes are more likely to affect bats. Either because of the type of building involved, specific activities, or both.

For instance, you’d be wise to consider bats if you’re doing a barn conversion or anything involving a bridge. The former because barns are near perfect bat habitats – rural, quiet, with rafters to perch on and a large roof cavity to keep them warm. The latter because of their proximity to water and the easy access to secure, dry shelters for hibernating or raising young via gaps in buttresses or joins where they’ve been widened.

Activities like demolition are inherently disruptive and, generally, involve abandoned or disused buildings. When people move out, wildlife tends to move in, so the probability of finding a bat in the roof space of an old office block are significantly higher than in an equivalent, occupied building.

Of course, the above list of examples is far from exhaustive. So, again, if you think you might need a bat survey, contact your local authority as soon as possible.

Building Buckinghamshire’s future

There’s plenty of development underway in Buckinghamshire, with more planned for the future.

For example, let’s look at housing in Milton Keynes.

The town only achieved 93.8% of the housing requirement stipulated by Central Government’s Housing Delivery Test between 2016/17 and 2018/19. As a result, they’ve created a Housing Delivery Action Plan that has, amongst other things, unlocked £90 million of Housing Infrastructure Funding to speed up the delivery of a significant site near the M1.

That said, getting planning permission for a development that harms the local wildlife is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. And it’s not just the local authority who will be scrutinising applications that could interfere with Buckinghamshire’s bats.

Even critical national infrastructure projects aren’t exempt from probing questions and even protests. Indeed, HS2 is under fire from local conservation groups for felling trees and disturbing buildings in the critical summer months of May through to September. These concerns were raised despite them being granted a licence to do so after risk assessments and putting mitigation measures in place.

Step one in resolving the problem

If you decide that you do need a bat report, your first port of call will be a phase 1 bat survey (also called a walkover bat survey or preliminary bat roost assessment).

In cases where your bat surveyor doesn’t find any bats and any habitats are of low quality, your bat report alone will usually be enough to satisfy the local authority and get you planning consent. You may have to put some mitigation or compensation in place, but this will normally be the end of the matter insofar as bats are concerned.

However, if your bat ecologist finds bats on your site or features that could make excellent roosts, you’ll probably be asked for further surveys. These are known as phase 2 bat surveys, but you might know them as dusk dawn bat surveys or nocturnal bat surveys. You can only get a phase 2 bat survey in the summer months (between May and September inclusive) because your bat surveyor can’t get an accurate picture if the bats aren’t active.

Now, you may think that a bat survey is a costly inconvenience. However, it’s not sensible to proceed without a bat survey when you need one because you have a legal obligation to protect bats in the course of your development.

Not to mention that if you don’t get a survey done when asked, you’ll probably be refused planning anyway. Choose to go ahead regardless, and you run the risk of criminal prosecution with sanctions that range from the severe to the profound – up to and including an unlimited fine and prison sentence.

It’s not a risk worth taking either because if you choose Arbtech to conduct your bat survey, you will get planning permission.

How do we know?

As of 2021, we’ve racked up 16 years in the business, delivering up to 3000 successful projects per year, resulting in hundreds of genuine five-star reviews.

Our bat reports and specialist advice have been instrumental in securing planning permission for thousands of clients – hundreds in Buckinghamshire alone.

And if you don’t? (But you will)

We’ll give you your money back.

No questions. No quibbles.

Over the years, our 30+ strong team has seen and solved every bat problem you could think of (and several that you can’t).

They’re the best in the business. And, because they’re all set up to work from home, we’re able to deploy a local expert to your site (employed by us – not a subcontractor!). As a result, your bat ecologist will know all about the local interest groups who object to planning applications and have plenty of experience in dealing with the Buckinghamshire local authorities. Both critical factors that will give your bat report the edge it needs to get through planning – first time.

You won’t be waiting long for your completed survey and report, either; Only two to four days at most on the overwhelming majority of occasions.

Not fast enough?

Talk to us about investing in a weekend survey or next working day report.

Get a bat survey in Buckinghamshire with comprehensive advice you can trust

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.

Sources:

Dean, S. 2020. Potential disturbance of bats by HS2 ‘a cause for concern’ say bat trust. [Online]. Available from: https://www.bucksherald.co.uk/news/people/potential-disturbance-bats-hs2-cause-concern-say-bat-trust-2872335(Last accessed 3rd March 2021)

Milton Keynes Council. 2020. Housing Delivery Action Plan. [Online]. Available from: https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/planning-and-building/planning-policy/housing-delivery-action-plan (Accessed 3rd March 2021)

North Bucks Bat Group. 2010. Bats in Bucks. [Online]. Available from: http://www.northbucksbatgroup.org.uk/local.html (Accessed 3rd March 2021)

Tooley, D. 2021. Bat plan for would-be site of 73 homes in Milton Keynes ‘hedges’ towards decision. [Online]. Available from: https://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/politics/council/bat-plan-would-be-site-73-homes-milton-keynes-hedges-towards-decision-3092230 (Accessed 3rd March 2021)

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