Principal Ecologist and bat specialist from The Ecology Consultancy, Sarah Nicholas, was interviewed by Mollie Green on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio for a feature that was aired on Sunday 20th September about the demolition of the Albion Tavern pub in Kenilworth, the presence of bats on the site and how a bat survey is carried out. The full interview can be found here on BBC iPlayer (the feature on the demolition begins at 14 minutes into the show)
Initial surveys of the pub found evidence of bats roosting there and demolition of the building has been postponed while further bat surveys are carried out to establish which species are present and how many. This is, of course, good news for the declining bat population but unfortunately has caused a delay to the planned demolition of the building for the developers.
All 18 bat species within the United Kingdom are legally protected. It is illegal to injure, capture, or disturb a bat or to destroy or obstruct access to places used for roosting, such as trees, buildings and other structures. Therefore, developers must proceed with caution wherever there is potential for bats to be present and for works to impact upon them. The first step is to engage early on with ecologists to establish whether bats are present within the building or not.
In the interview Sarah discussed the importance of initial bat surveys to identify potential features in the building that might indicate bats are present, for example, gaps in brickwork and damaged fascia boards. Where initial surveys suggest the buildings have potential to support bats further surveys, such as dusk emergence surveys, should then be carried out to confirm the presence of bats within the building and to establish whether further mitigation needs to take place. Specialist survey equipment, such as bat detectors, infra-red cameras and endoscopes may be used.
As Sarah explains in the interview, surveys aim to identify which species are present, in what numbers and how they are using the building. This information can then be used to inform the mitigation strategy. Generally, demolition of a building with a bat roost will result in the loss of the roost and alternative roosting opportunities will need to be provided as compensation for this. The nature of the mitigation will depend on the species and the status of the roost. For example, a maternity roost would be particularly important to the conservation status of bats and therefore the roost site should be replicated on as near to a like-for-like basis as possible prior to the loss of the existing one. Works affecting bat roosts need to be undertaken under a European Protected Species Mitigation licence from Natural England.
How we can help
The Ecology Consultancy has a team of Natural England licensed bat specialists who are able to conduct a range of bat surveys including preliminary assessments, dusk emergence and dawn re-entry bat surveys and can provide advice as to appropriate mitigation and licensing requirements for any organisation or individual undergoing development work. We work closely with developers to ensure their project can proceed while complying with the legislation surrounding bats. It’s essential that ecologists, planners and developers work together early on in the development process, for example at the pre-planning stage, to provide cost effective and timely results for all sides, thus minimising the impact on a development schedule. More information about bat surveys and mitigation can be found here.
Listen in here on BBC iplayer at 14 minutes into the show for the full demolition feature.