A client contacted Arbtech Consulting Limited about a small domestic development for a bungalow in Reading, Berkshire. The development proposals were for a dormer window loft conversion including new skylight windows. Because the development involved works to the roof structure and the development site was located adjacent to woodland, the Council decided that the development could pose a risk to bats and their roosts. As such, the Local Planning Authority requested that a bat survey is carried out to support the planning application.
The Local Area
The site was in a residential area of Reading, within the village of Whitchurch Hill, which is in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The local area comprised of housing around the outskirts of the village, a church, areas of well-connected woodland and agricultural fields. Altogether, the mixture of houses, woodland and nearby ponds provide ideal roosting and foraging resources for the local bat population.
A suitably qualified consultant carried out the initial internal and external assessment of the building on site. As well as checking inside the loft space for bats and evidence of bat activity, the consultant carried out an external inspection of the building. External roosting features that are suitable for bat roosting were noted by the consultant. Such features include raised roof tiles, damaged areas, raised lead flashing and cracks in brickwork. Due to the site’s location, with ideal bat habitat located in the local vicinity, and the presence of roosting features located externally, the building was assessed to have moderate suitability to support roosting bats.
As bat presence could not be ruled out, further surveys were needed to satisfy the Council with regard to roosting bats.
Bat Emergence and Re-entry Surveys
Stage 2 bat surveys are called Bat Emergence/Re-entry Surveys (BERS) and these are required when bat roosts are found, evidence of bat activity is present or when the building has suitable roosting features and bat presence cannot be ruled out by the consultant. BERS can only be carried out during May – September inclusive, in favourable weather conditions, when bats are not hibernating.
BERS are carried out either at dawn or at dusk and involve surveyors positioned outside the building observing the features that bats could be roosting in or are known roosts. Any bats that emerge or re-enter the building are recorded, noting the bat species and numbers observed.
The BERS revealed no bat roosts within the building. Bats were seen foraging for insects in the garden areas and passing over the site. Various species of bat were observed including common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and serotine bats.
No bats were seen emerging from or re-entering the building during the dusk and dawn bat surveys. Therefore, the survey effort concluded a likely-absence of roosting bats. The bats that were seen flying over the site and foraging in the garden areas are likely to be roosting in nearby buildings or trees within the nearby woodland.
The Arbtech bat survey reports were sufficient to support the client’s planning application to progress with the local authority. Suitable bat enhancements were recommended within the report which included garden planting to support invertebrates that bats will feed on.
‘I’d like to pass on my thanks to Joe Slade from Arbtech for his hard work and producing our Bat Survey reports so quickly, he gave regular updates and explained the process to us. It seemed daunting to begin with, but the whole experience was a positive one, and we’ve learned a few things along the way! Thoroughly recommend Arbtech for bat surveys‘
You can receive a free same-day quotation for your development by contacting us through the form on our website or calling our head office on 01244 661170.
As well as ecological surveys (including bat, badger and great crested newt), we also carry out arboricultural and topographical surveys.