On this and our service pages, you can find all the information you’re ever likely to need about bat surveys and what happens next. (And if for some reason you don’t, our friendly experts are at the other end of that freephone number up there on the top right of your screen.) Questions like “what happens to my planning application if I have bats?” are asked of our team on a daily basis by people just like you, all across the UK.
We know that bats might not have been in your game plan and the original costings for your project, so we do appreciate you’re a little worried about what comes next. Fortunately, our team have never failed to secure a planning consent for a client where bats have been found or are even suspected to be present at a site.
Of course, there’s a protocol to follow; bat surveys to be done, reports to be submitted to your local planners, and in some rare cases, protected species licences to be obtained… but that’s all in a day’s work for us here at Arbtech. With six fully licenced bat survey consultants we have among the broadest and deepest bat expertise of any ecological consultancy in the country.
In the UK we have 18 different species of bats and they are all protected by law. Bats live in places refereed to as roosts. A bat roost can be found in a number of different places including caves, cracks in trees, lofts and barns. Bats like to set up their roosts where there is a safe place to hibernate, raise their babies and find insects and water to feed on. Bats have different requirements of roosts at different times of the year so they will often move around to find a roost that suits them.
All 18 species of bat native to the UK are legally protected through their inclusion in Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive, which is enforced in England and Wales via the Habitats Regulations 2010. Disturbing bats or their roosts is a criminal offence. Therefore, if you’re planning to impact upon buildings, trees and or other potential roosting sites in the course of your development, howsoever insignificant the impact may seem, you have a legal obligation to avoid disturbing bats as you do so. There is established case law supporting prosecutions for development disturbing bats, which twice has reached the Supreme Courts!
Current bat protection laws make it illegal to:
There are two types of bat survey. Let’s call them ‘Scoping’ and ‘Emergence,’ for the sake of simplicity. A scoping bat survey (stage 1), is an internal and external inspections of your buildings and can be undertaken any time of the year. The exercise is designed to report to you and exclude the presence of three triggers for emergence surveys, as follows:
If either presence or evidence is positive, or there is medium to high potential for roosting, you will have to propose mitigation or habitat enhancements for bats in your planning application. Without this mitigation there would be a net loss of habitat—the cause of bat population decline that drove lawmakers to legally protect bats and their roosts in the first place.
Obviously it is not possible to propose mitigation for loss of roosting habitat if e.g. the species of bat, the population numbers, and the roost’s significance is unknown. To illustrate this point: it is much easier to mitigate for a single pipistrelle male—common throughout the UK—using your site as an occasional summer roost than say, a large maternity colony of a rarer species of bat.
So it follows that the industry guidance for deciding on what mitigation is appropriate, is to conduct bat emergence surveys (phase 2.) In the UK, bats hibernate during the winter months, when the insects they predate upon are less abundant. This means emergence surveys are limited to summer months, typically (though not exclusively) anytime during May through September inclusive.
The surveyors use equipment that records and converts bats’ echolocation calls into sounds we can hear and interpret. Surveys are conducted either at dusk or at dawn, when bats can be seen to emerge or re-enter a roost. In this way, our report can show, scientifically, that the mitigation you propose as part of your planning application is adequate and appropriate to the species and population of bat, and the actual use of the site.
Typically, scoping bat surveys cost £299+VAT, as they represent around a day’s work. Emergence surveys involve several visits to the site, at night, normally by at least two surveyors (so all angles of the building are covered.) This means they are more expensive and typically, costing in excess of £799+VAT, as they represent around three or more day’s work.
Bat surveys must only be performed by a licenced bat consultant someone who is educated and trained to handle and disturb bats safely, and has proven this to the powers that be.
A license is issued to a surveyor by Natural England in England and the Countryside Council for Wales in Wales. These two bodies are known as Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations. The license essentially permits actions that would otherwise be unlawful e.g. disturbing bats—which you frequently do when visiting their roosts.
Without a license, a surveyor must retreat if they uncover evidence of bat roosting, which is not much use to you, as the resulting report would be incomplete. Further, without a license the surveyor may be judged to be incompetent and so have their report disregarded by the local planning authority.
If you would like a free quote then you can call our friendly team or click on the ‘free quote’ button. Provide us with some basic details including the address of your site and we will put an accurate quote together for you and send it via email. The quote explains everything you need to know and there is no obligation for you to take it further if you don’t want to.
We react with lightning speed and aim to get your bat survey turned around as fast as possible, at a fair and fixed cost, which you can find right here on this site. Robert Oates
We only undertaken planning and development related work, so our bat expertise isn’t diluted over a multitude of disciplines and sectors.Craig Williams
We care the most about what matters to you: getting our client a planning permission via the path of least resistance. Martin O’Connor
You can find out even more about bat surveys on our various internal and external resources…
See for yourself what renowned (in the bat world) Doctoral Researcher, Stacy Waring thinks of our internal resources:
We know you need your project completed to a high standard, and we think it's important that you know who you are dealing with. Meet our ecology experts and learn more about the team here.Meet the Team