Arbtech Preliminary Bat Surveys in Chippenham, Salisbury and throughout Wiltshire
You may need a bat survey to get planning permission for your Wiltshire development.
There are plenty of reasons for this, but, primarily it’ll be because your development is likely to disturb bats or their habitats. A bat report gives the local planning authority assurances that you’re willing and able to meet your legal obligations to the bat population.
Trowbridge alone plays host to 14 of the UK’s 18 species of bat, including all four of the rarer species named on Annex II of the Habitats Directive. Consequently, a variety of bat mitigation strategies, environmental policies, and biodiversity initiatives are in play across the county. This underscores the commitment of the Wiltshire local authorities to protecting bats and their roosts.
The local authority isn’t the only body that will scrutinise your planning application if your development is likely to have a material impact on Wiltshire’s bat population. Local interest groups and residents seldom welcome these development proposals with open arms. In fact, one recent planning application for 28 homes in Warminster resulted in a petition to reject the plans that garnered 1725 signatures. The petition highlighted that the land is a vital habitat for rare species – including bats.
I’m not in a rural part of Wiltshire. Why do I need a bat survey?
Of course, you’re probably wondering whether or not you need a bat survey. There is a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to this question. However, the only body qualified to give it is your local planning authority. So if you’re not sure, the best thing to do is get in touch with them as soon as possible. There’s a good reason for this urgency as some bat surveys (known as phase 2 bat surveys or emergence bat surveys) can only be carried out between May and September. If it turns out that you need one of these surveys, but you miss this window, it’ll be next to impossible to progress your scheme until the next survey season.
Whilst we can’t tell you that you need a bat survey, we can say that there are features that should make you start thinking about bats.
If your development is anywhere near a watercourse like a river or a stream, the chances of you finding bats or a potential roost on your site are relatively high. This is because the water attracts swarms of insects that bats will readily forage. Speaking of watercourses the many stone bridges and aqueducts dotted around the Wiltshire countryside often have excellent roosting potential. Not only are they close to water (and therefore nourishment), but gaps in the stonework and “joins” where these bridges have been widened offer easy access to warm, dry spaces to raise young, hibernate, and rest.
Similarly, Salisbury’s unique semi-rural setting and plethora of old buildings (especially towards the city centre) provide a blend of natural and manmade bat habitats. Indeed, a few years ago, a single specimen of an incredibly rare species of bat, the barbastelle, was found in a clothes shop in the city. There are only about 5000 of these bats in the country, so finding one is a strong indication that Salisbury can support a strong bat population.
You won’t be surprised to read that these examples are far from exhaustive. So, again, get in touch with your local authority to get the tailored advice you need.
A bat-friendly future for Wiltshire
As far as development is concerned, there’s plenty of it in progress and more on the cards for the future.
Yes, the local authorities are firmly committed to enhancing biodiversity and the environment, especially when protected species like bats are likely to be affected by a development. However, this attitude and the initiatives that stem from it are far from insurmountable obstacles.
The Wiltshire Core Strategy identifies Chippenham (along with Trowbridge and Salisbury) as a “Principal Settlement”. In simple terms, this means development will be a priority in the years ahead. For example, the Chippenham Masterplan indicates that the area will provide 26.5 hectares of extra employment land and 4000 new homes (of which 1000 have already been built) by 2026.
However, although development is, on the whole, encouraged by the local authorities, it’s exceedingly unlikely that it will be permitted at the expense of the local bat population.
This begs the question; what happens if your development does have bats and roosts?
Fortunately, you can still get planning permission, even if your site has a bit of a bat problem.
This is because Planners make decisions based on policy and evidence. You can’t control the former, but you can control the latter by providing a robust bat survey to support your planning application.
Ultimately, your planning Case Officer needs to be able to defend their decision to grant planning permission. To do this, they need evidence; If they don’t have enough proof that your development is balanced against the needs of local bats, they’ll refuse your application.
When there are no bats, and any habitats are of exceedingly poor quality, a simple phase one bat survey (also known as a walkover bat survey) and report will usually satisfy the local planning authority. You may or may not need to put mitigation or compensation in place, but this will usually be the end of the matter.
However, if bats are found and/or your site has one or more high-quality habitats on it (for example, features that could be used as maternity or hibernation roosts), the local authority will probably ask you for further bat surveys. These bat surveys are known as phase 2 bat surveys, dusk-dawn bat surveys, or nocturnal bat surveys. They go into much greater detail and involve one or more overnight studies of your site. Also, these surveys can only be completed between May and September because this is when bats are most active. After all, there’s little point in sitting in a field all night if the bats are hibernating!
If it turns out that you do need a bat survey, it’s in your interest to get one. Many people see them as an unwelcome inconvenience and expense. Regardless, if you choose to go ahead with your development and you even so much as disturb a bat you could face severe criminal penalties – up to and including an unlimited fine or prison sentence.
It’s really not a risk worth taking either.
-Because as of 2021, our bat surveys have been instrumental in securing planning permission for thousands of people; Hundreds of them in Wiltshire alone.
We’ve been solving bat problems and getting projects through planning for 16 years now, and in that time, we’ve seen it all. So, no matter how sensitive or complicated your bat-related planning issue is, you can be confident that we’ve seen (and solved) it before. Probably more than once.
Choose Arbtech for your bat survey, and you will get planning permission.
And on the off-chance you don’t?
We’ll give you your money back. No questions asked.
Our 30+ strong team of bat ecologists all hold bachelors or masters degrees and have passed our demanding in-house training program that exposes them to every conceivable site.
They’re set up to work from home, too. So, the bat surveyor who arrives at your site will be a local expert who has lived and worked in and around Wiltshire for years. This means they’ll know exactly how the local authorities make their planning determinations, and they’ll also know about all the local interest groups who routinely object to planning applications. Both factors are of immeasurable value to your bat report.
You won’t be waiting long for your completed bat survey and report, either; Two to four working days at most.
Not fast enough?
Talk to us about investing in a weekend survey or next working day report.
Get a bat survey in Wiltshire 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.
Baker, J. 2021. Over 1,725 sign protest petition against plans for 28 new homes in Warminster. [Online]. Available from: https://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/19126738.1-725-sign-protest-petition-plans-28-new-homes-warminster/(Accessed 3rd March 2021)
Salisbury Journal. 2019. Extremely rare barbastelle bat found in Salisbury clothing store Joules. [Online]. Available from: https://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/17897335.extremely-rare-barbastelle-bat-found-salisbury-clothing-store-joules/ (Accessed 3rd March 2021)
Wiltshire County Council. 2014. Chippenham Masterplan. [Online]. Available from: https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/media/2772/Chippenham-Masterplan-May-2014/pdf/Chippenham-masterplan-2014-may.pdf?m=637147617136170000 (Accessed 3rd March 2021)
Wiltshire County Council. 2020. Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy SPD. [Online]. Available from: https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/media/3928/Trowbridge-Bat-Mitigation-Strategy-SPD/pdf/whsap-trowbridge-bat-mitigation-strategy.pdf?m=637273390249630000 (Accessed 3rd March 2021)
Wiltshire County Council. ND. Biodiversity and development. [Online]. Available from: https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planning-bio-development (Accessed 3rd March 2021)