All 18 species of bat in the UK are protected by domestic and European legislation. Bats can roost in trees, buildings, caves, tunnels, bridges and other structures, as long as there is suitable habitat nearby for them to forage. It is illegal to injure, kill, capture or disturb a bat. It is also illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct their roosts even if bats are not present at the time

As bats regularly roost in buildings and trees, they can easily be affected by development or maintenance work. In order to determine whether bats are present or likely to be absent from a tree or structure, detailed internal and external inspections and often further dusk emergence and dawn re-entry surveys are required. If found to be present and impacts to bats cannot be avoided, a European Protected Species mitigation licence may be required from the applicable Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), e.g. Natural England, to proceed with the development. Depending on how the roost will be impacted, this may include a requirement for the creation of replacement roosting opportunities, sensitive lighting strategies and creation of suitable foraging habitat.

For some developments, such as large infrastructure projects or new settlements, bat activity transect surveys or static detector assessments may be required to determine the impact on commuting bats or foraging habitat and to determine the species assemblage that may be impacted by the works.

Most bat surveys, such as dusk emergence/dawn re-entry surveys and activity transects, can only be undertaken between May and September when bats are active and not hibernating. However, internal and external building inspections, and ground level tree assessments can be undertaken at any time of year. Hibernation roost checks can only be undertake during the hibernation period from November to March, inclusive.

Our ecology consultants hold the relevant protected species licence for bats and have extensive experience of successfully delivering projects ranging from straightforward building extensions to major new housing schemes. ADAS also have trained tree climbers who can safely conduct climbed tree inspections for bats.

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