If you are planning on building works that affect the roof of existing buildings or converting garages, barns, and outbuildings, you will need an ecological survey to ensure that there are no bats nesting in your proposed locations. It is essential that you comply with the legal protection of bats and you should ensure that your design proposals take the appropriate measures to avoid any negative effects on bats.
As the UK Government website states: ‘All bat species are designated and protected as European protected species (EPS) and they are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. You cannot damage or destroy their nesting sites or resting places. It is also an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally or recklessly:
- disturb bats while they occupy a structure or place used for shelter or protection
- obstruct access to a place of shelter or protection’
As architects, we work alongside professional ecologists who have extensive experience in carrying out bat surveys to determine if there are signs of nesting in a proposed project location.
The initial daytime bat survey can be carried out at any time of the year, however, if any signs of bats are found, such as droppings, then a nocturnal survey is required which can then cause delays to a project if it’s not the correct time of year.
Bat emergence surveys can be undertaken between May and September, although the optimal time is from May to August, with surveys spaced a minimum of two weeks apart, preferably four for a better spread.
To avoid a negative impact on bats and their roosts, proposals can be redesigned to allow for the bat roosts to remain in their current location. If this is not possible, it is important to either keep some existing roof voids and roosting spaces, create new roosting places within the existing building or different buildings and redesign lighting to mitigate the likely effect on the bat species present.