Our client was preparing a planning application to demolish a building in St Helens, Merseyside so their local planning authority asked for a bat survey to make sure that there was no danger of the development having an adverse affect on any bat populations. We were asked undertake a scoping bat survey. This is a simple survey done during daylight hours to check if a more detailed bat survey could be needed.
WHAT WE DID
We sent one of our Arbtechers, Amy Stanley along to conduct the survey. Amy has been a key part of the Arbtech team for years and her specialist area is bats. Amy often conducts surveys all over the North of England including Merseyside.
When our surveyors carry out a bat survey, they always use the widely accepted industry best practice standard which is set out in the Bat Conservation Trust publication – Bat Surveys – Good Practice Guidelines ( Hundt 2012 ).
Before Amy visited the site, she carried out a desk study which made use of aerial imagery and other useful information such as Natural Englands nature on the map website. This gave her a good idea of what to expect on the site and helped her determine how long the survey was likely to take.
When on site, Amy carried out a thorough internal and inspection of all buildings and trees, looking for cracks, holes and cavities using a variety of tools where appropriate such as torches, ladders, endoscopes, mirrors, binoculars and cameras. This type of bat survey is an opportunity to check if any more survey work will be required and Amy was looking for 3 main things when assessing the property:
- Bats (obviously!)
- Evidence of recent bat activity such as droppings, prey remains and urine staining
- Features suitable for roosting
Amy found evidence of bat activity in both the main building and the extension of the property. This was clear because droppings were found along with insect remains. This helped Amy determine that this bat roost was a day roost. From the type of droppings, it appeared that they belonged to the Pipistrelle species of bat. Amy kept some samples of the droppings for DNA analysis.
From Amy’s findings it was clear that further works to the property could potentially damage a bat habitat. This meant that a dusk emergence survey was needed to get more information. This is a more detailed survey that is only done if the initial survey shows evidence of bats. Unlike the initial assessment, dusk emergance surveys have a specific season that they can be done. The optimum season for an emergency survey is between May and August.
After reporting our findings to the client, we were asked to move on to the next stage – the emergence survey. The purpose of the bat emergence survey is to determine the species of bat, their population and the type of roost. We set up a convenient time with our client and carried out the emergency survey which showed bats emerging from and re entering the property.
After once again providing a clear report to the client and answering any questions our client had they were understandably worried about their development being hindered. However, even with bats present at a site, it is still possible for the development to go ahead with the addition of a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL).
An EPSL grants a licencee permission from an agency of the UK government to carry out work that would otherwise be a criminal offence. To get an EPSL granted, you need to be able to prove that there are no viable alternatives to the proposed works. This can include disturbing the habitat of a legally protected species such as bats.
We have a great deal of experience obtaining EPSL’s here at Arbtech. We have completed over 150 EPSL licence applications for our clients and they have all been successful!
This time was no different. We were able to obtain an EPSL on behalf of our client so that their project could progress without further delays, making our client very happy.
Amy Stanley was the lead surveyor at the 3 Emergence Bat Surveys carried out for us at our property in Crank, St Helens, Merseyside. Prior to the surveys we spent a considerable amount of time on the internet learning about Bats as we knew very little about them but after 10 minutes with Amy at the 1st survey we learnt more from her than we had from all the time we had spent on the Internet.
Not only did Amy thoroughly answer our questions in a very friendly way she made the surveys a most interesting experience for us. We only spent a short time at each survey as we did not want to distract Amy and her colleagues from the work they were doing but we were extremely impressed with their professional approach to the surveys.
They were all extremely friendly and clearly enjoying the work they were doing. Based on our experience we rate Arbtech to be a first class company that we would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who needed help and advice on any matter relating to Bats.
If you have any projects in the Merseyside area that require ecological and aboricultural experts then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We don’t just operate around Merseyside though. Our consultants cover the whole of the UK.