Pipistrelle Bat flying by Barracuda1983 via Wikimedia Commons

To book your Preliminary Roost Assessment for Bats

Call Midland Ecology

0121 517 0841

or email info@midlandecology.co.uk

Bats (Chiroptera) and their roosts are protected by law.

If bats or suspected roosts are found on your site, in most cases, you should be able to avoid harming the bats or damaging their roosts by adjusting your planned work. If you can’t avoid disturbing them or damaging their habitats, you will require a licence from Natural England. If you need to apply for planning permission, your planning authority should check you’re taking the right steps to avoid harming them, which usually starts with a survey.

You may be required to undertake an initial bat survey, called a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) if there is a risk that your development could present harm to bats. Developments that often need bat surveys include the demolition of a building, or part thereof, re-roofing, extensions to buildings that tie into existing roof structures, loft conversions or developments requiring the removal of trees.

Your local planning authority should advise you, or your architect, if the development requires bat surveys, or a previous Preliminary Ecological Appraisal or Extended Phase I Habitat Survey may identify the need for bat surveys. The Bat Conservation Trust’s (BCT) website has lots of guidance, or alternatively call us on 0121 517 0841 for some advice.

Bats are highly susceptible to habitat loss and fragmentation and therefore many bat populations are tentative. Bats have a relatively low reproductive rate and are particularly vulnerable to a range of threats. Bats need many different types of roosts throughout the year, and return to these same roosts year on year. They are highly social animals meaning a number of bats could be using any one roost at the same time. The loss of a single roost alone can, therefore, have a serious impact on populations. As such, all bats in the UK are given protected consideration under the 1981 amended Wildlife and Countryside Act and within various legislation and policy guidelines.

Cumulatively, this legislation makes it illegal to:

- Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat

- Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats

- Damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time)

- Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat

- Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost

A roost is generally interpreted to mean “any structure or place, which any wild bat uses for shelter or protection.” Bats return to different roosts at different times of year. Roosts are therefore protected by law whether or not bats are present at the time.

If you carry out work affecting bats or roosts without a license you will be breaking the law.

Penalties on conviction include:

- A maximum fine of £5,000 per incident or per bat (some roosts contain several hundred bats)

- Up to six months in prison

- Forfeiture of items used to commit the offence, e.g. vehicles, plant, machinery

In order to conduct your PRA, Midland Ecology will require the following information:

- Your/ your client’s name and contact details (e-mail address and telephone number)

- Full site address

- Access to be arranged for a convenient time
(NB it is not necessary for you to be present during the survey as long as there is open access to the site and its buildings. Please ensure any alarm/lock codes are sent to us in advance)

- Full site plan including the current layout of any buildings on site (in PDF format) and the position of any trees affected by works

- Your development proposals (in PDF format)

A PRA takes place during daylight hours and can be conducted at any time of year.

Assuming visibility is not affected, this type of survey can be conducted in any weather.

A licensed bat surveyor conducts a site inspection covering all buildings and trees. The inspection is both internal and external, making use of torches, ladders, endoscopes, mirrors, binoculars and cameras where appropriate to do so. The inspection looks for bats, evidence of recent bat activity e.g. droppings, prey remains and urine staining, and features suitable for roosting e.g. cracks, holes, cavities and voids in buildings, and cracks, fissures and voids in trees.

The surveyor also undertakes a desk study utilising aerial images from Google Earth, MAGIC and other freely available information e.g. Natural England’s nature on the map website, and OS Opendata 2010, as well as biological records data.

Using the findings from the desk study and site inspection, the surveyor determines whether there is enough evidence to be certain that bats are absent from the site, or if further surveys are required.

It is not necessary for you to be present during the survey as long as there is open access to the site and its buildings. Please ensure any alarm/lock codes are sent to us in advance.

The cost of a PRA is determined by the size of the site and the number of buildings and trees to be inspected. Our fee includes the desk study, site visit and the production of a report, with associated costs (e.g. mileage, expenses) all included. Call us on 0121 517 0841 or e-mail us for a more detailed quote.

Biological records data may also be required. This is provided by your local biological records centre, who will charge their own fee. We will contact them for a quote on your behalf.

Midland Ecology include PRAs as part of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal or Extended Phase I Habitat Survey. Assuming that the surveyor can access all relevant buildings and trees on the same visit, then no further cost is charged.

Midland Ecology aims to have your finished report to you within 10 days of completing the survey.

Depending on your local records centre, Biological Records Data (BRD) can delay the final version of your report. We will request a probable timescale when obtaining your quote, and advise you immediately of any likely delays.

During the PRA trees, structures and linear features are assigned a rating of suitability for supporting bats from negligible to high potential. The rating is based on factors such as the location in the surrounding landscape, and the number and type of features suitable for use by bats, amongst others. This rating determines whether, and how many stage 2 surveys should be undertaken.

If bats, evidence of their activity and suitable roosting locations are all absent from the site, then no further visits are normally required. If the results of the PRA are inconclusive, then stage 2 presence/absence surveys may be needed. Where a roost has been found, stage 2 Roost Characterisation Surveys will be required.

Click here for further information on stage 2 surveys.