In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.
Legislation dictates that any structures or place which a bats use for shelter or protection are protected from damage or destruction whether occupied or not. This legislation has been incorporated into planning policies. This means that planning authorities have a legal obligation to consider whether bats are likely to be affected by a proposed development.
You will be committing a criminal offence if you:
- Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
- Disturb a bat or group of bats in its roost
- Damage or destroy a bat roosting place
- Possess, advertise, sell or exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat
- Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost
The maximum fine is £5,000 per incident or per bat (some roosts contain several hundred bats), up to six months in prison, and forfeiture of items used to commit the offence, e.g. vehicles, plant, machinery.
The conservation of bats is reliant on a number of factors:
- the provision of roosting opportunities – some bats prefer hollow trees, some caves and some use both at different times. Many bats shelter in buildings between slates and boarding or in roof spaces
- the availability of foraging and commuting habitats. All UK bat species eat insects, so they look for places with lots of insects to hunt. Commuting habitats enable them to travel between their roots and their hunting ground
- the appropriate management of existing roosts and hunting areas
For these factors to be delivered, development proposals must have as much information as possible before applications are given planning permission. If a bat survey demonstrates the development is likely to affect bat foraging and/or commuting habitat, compensatory planting will need to be considered.
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