Why are bat surveys needed?
All UK bat species, and their roosts, receive protection under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
These legislative tools make it illegal to harm or disturb bats, or to cause damage or destruction of their roosts. Bat surveys are therefore required to identify the presence or likely absence of bats with sites proposed for development.
The requirement for bat surveys can be triggered by the findings of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal or other baseline ecology survey. The appraisal may identify buildings, trees or other structures that have the potential to support roosting bats. Further bat surveys would then be necessary to confirm whether bats are present or not.
Our Bat Team and Services
Bat surveys are one of Simlaw Ecology’s specialisms. Our bat team is led by Director and Principal Ecologist Daniel Simmons, who has been honing his academic and field knowledge of bat ecology since 2008 and has been using his experience to design and expertly implement commercial bat surveys across the development sector ever since.
Daniel has held a ‘Level II Bat Survey Class licence’ since 2014 and was registered by Natural England to use the ‘Bat Mitigation Class Licence’ in 2020, meaning that, where eligible, bat licensing requirements can be delivered quicker than normal.
Types of bat services we provide
Below is a brief summary of the most common types of bat survey and their purpose:
- Preliminary Roost Assessment: a daytime visit to inspect buildings or other structures for evidence of a bat roost and to fully assess their potential to support roosting bats.
- Bat Activity Surveys: nocturnal bat surveys are used assess the likely effects of a larger scale development on a resident bat population.
- Presence or likely Absence Surveys: dusk/pre-dawn surveys that establish whether bats are present in a feature (i.e. a building, other structure or tree) that has been assessed as suitable to support a bat roost during a daytime assessment.
- Roost Characterisation Surveys: required if you have a known roost on your proposed development site. These surveys determine how bats use the roost and the level of importance the roost holds for any bats that are using it. This information is required to inform an application to Natural England for a European Protected Species Mitigation (EPSM) licence that will allow your development to proceed lawfully.
- Bat Tree Assessments: The assessment of trees for their potential to support roosting bats is carried out over two stages. First, a ground-based tree assessment will be carried out to look for potential bat roosting features, then, members of our experienced climbing team will climb the trees to carry out a close inspection for bats, or evidence of them.
- European Protected Species Mitigation Bat Licensing: If a project will result unavoidable impacts to bats, or their roosts, then our experienced team can ensure that bat licence is obtained so that the proposed works can be carried out lawfully.
- Bat Mitigation Class Licensing: Our principal Ecologist is registered to use a Bat Mitigation Class Licence, meaning that, in certain situations where a bat licence is required, these can be obtained much faster than normal.
How you will receive your results
Sound professional judgement enables the survey brief and methodology to be adapted on a case by case basis, ensuring that you only commission the surveys you need and that they are fit for whatever purpose your project requires, be it planning consent or legal compliance.
When to time your bat surveys
Preliminary Bat Roost Assessments and Bat Tree Assessments can be carried out at any time of the year. However, all nocturnal bat surveys are subject to timing constraints, so consider booking them at the very beginning of your planning process to ensure the project is kept on track.
- A suitably licensed and qualified person can carry out climbed tree inspections, at any time of the year. However, the optimal time for these surveys is between November and April, when trees are not in leaf.
- Bat activity and presence/likely surveys can be undertaken between May and September (optimal survey period May to August).
- Hibernation surveys can be undertaken between November and March.
- Timing constraints apply to some works under EPSM bat licence (such as removal of a bat roost in order to facilitate a development) can only be carried out between March and April or between September and November.