Bat surveys: what they’re for and when to get one guide, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 tips, Property outdoors

Bat Surveys: What They’re for and When to Get One

24 May 2022

If you’re breaking into a loft void, demolishing a building, or live in a bat-friendly area, then a bat survey is not an uncommon requirement. Bat survey reports may be required for any development project that might have an impact on certain protected species including bats, newts, nesting birds and others. These are all protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A bat survey is required to check if there are any bats in the property before doing development work. It should be carried out any time there is a ‘reasonable likelihood’ that bats are present.

Bat surveys guide

Why is a Bat Survey Needed?

A bat survey will be necessary before carrying out any work where there is a chance you might interfere with, disrupt, or disturb bats in their natural habitat. Since bats are a protected species, it is against the law to interfere with their environment. Having a bat survey carried out by a professional bat surveyor will ensure that you take all the necessary steps to avoid having an impact on a pre-existing bat population and avoid causing any long-term damage while still being able to complete your project. Get a quote for a bat surveyor at Arbtech. Arbtech is the number one provider of bat surveys in the UK, with over three thousand customers.

Types of Work That May Affect Bats

If you are planning a project, then your local planning authority may require that relevant processes are in place before you begin to ensure that there is as little disturbance as possible to bats as a protected species. Since bats are protected by law, bat surveys should be taken seriously by homeowners and developers. There are various types of projects that might affect bats including extensions of buildings, demolishing buildings, roof modifications, removals of trees and hedges, barn conversions, wind turbines, and road building and maintenance.

How Long Do Bat Surveys Last?

A bat survey report will usually last for around one to two years, which is due to the changing habits of bats. Bats might find new roosts each season, which is why bat surveys should be updated after a certain amount of time has passed. A bat survey report that is out of date may impact building and development plans and the work may need to be halted until a new bat survey can be completed. Because of this, it’s important for both private and commercial developments to be mindful when it comes to making sure that any bat survey reports obtained are still in date.

Where Can Bats Be Found?

The location of your project may have an impact on whether or not you are required to get a bat survey. There are some common places where you are usually more likely to find bats. These include buildings that have large roof areas and clear flying spaces, buildings with easy access, older buildings with more crevices and cracks, buildings that are located close to water or woodlands, buildings that do not have a lot of artificial light, buildings that need modification, removal or conversion, buildings that have hanging tiles or weather boarding, agriculture buildings, or buildings with stone construction or exposed beams.

Bats as a Protected Species

Bats are a protected species in the UK. Because of this, it is an offence to intentionally disturb bats in their natural habitats, if the disturbance may impact the ability of the bats to survive, breed, or care for their young. It is also an offence to capture, injure, or kill a bat. You will be breaking the law if you obstruct access to a roost of if you destroy or damage a roost, regardless of whether or not the bats are present.

If you believe that there is a reasonable chance that bats might be present on the site that you are working with, it’s important to know what to do next in order to stay within legal guidelines. A bat survey is the best course of action to not only determine whether or not there are bats present on the site but also to put together a plan for completing the work in a way that does not disturb the bats in their natural habitat or cause any damage or obstructions to the roost. Currently, there are eighteen different protected species of bat in the UK, and seventeen of these are known to be breeding in the country.

When to Get a Bat Survey

Experts recommend that you have a bat survey carried out as early as you can in the process, especially if you have noticed any signs that bats might be present on the site. This will make it easier for you to avoid having to consider the costs of mitigation further down into the project at a point where it might be too late, or you may have already done something illegal without realising. Having a bat survey done as early as you can will make it easier for you to implement any necessary actions to protect any bats and their habitat before you begin the work. No matter how big or small your project, it is important to make sure that you have taken the necessary steps to make sure that you are complying with the necessary legislation. You can be fined if you ignore it.

Bat surveys: what they’re for and when to get one tips

What if There are No Signs of Bats?

Unless you are one hundred percent sure that there are no bats in the property, if the building or development has any small chance that bats might be present, even if there are no obvious signs, it is still worth having a survey carried out. At the very least this can confirm that there are no bats present, allowing you to start the work. You can have preliminary roost assessments conducted at any time. This will allow you to get more clarity on the presence of bats and give you time to change your plans if needed to accommodate for any bats on site.

Since bats are a protected species in the UK, it’s important to make sure that there are either no bats present, or to come up with plans to ensure that they are not impacted before you begin a project.

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