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Bat Surveys

Bat Surveys

Are you renovating your property, adding an extension or re-roofing? Are you developing land with existing buildings, trees or natural vegetation? Then you may require a bat survey. We offer a range of bat surveys for developers, local authorities and smaller private customers.

The UK is home to 17 native species of bat, all of which are nocturnal and feed exclusively on insects. They can be found in a range of habitats from woodland to rivers and grasslands to urban gardens, with each species having a preferred habitat type depending on the insects they prey on.

Many species choose to roost in buildings and due to their nocturnal lifestyle, you may not even be aware of their presence in your house. In addition to housing, bats will make use of a wide variety of built structure including bridges, cellars and tunnels, as well as trees, caves, mines and bat boxes.

It is thought that almost all species in the UK have experienced declines in range and population size over the past few decades, with one of the main causes thought to be development. As more of the landscape is used for housing, bat roosts are being destroyed, feeding habitat removed and vital commuting routes severed. Therefore, it is important to ensure that development is undertaken in a sustainable manner for bats.

View our Ecology Survey Calendar. to plan your Bat Surveys and if you are a developer or architect, you can view our Do I Need a Bat Survey? document to avoid any development delays.

Bats and the Law:

All bat species and their roosts in the UK are protected under European and UK law. The main piece of legislation protecting UK bats is The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) (better known as the Habitats Regulations). In addition to this, bats and their roosts are also protected in England and Wales under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (as amended). Under these pieces of legislation, it is an offense to:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat.

  • Deliberately disturb a bat in a way that would affect its ability to survive, breed or rear young (or hibernate or migrate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or (significantly in England, Wales and Scotland) affect the local distribution or abundance of the species.

  • Damage or destroy a roost (this is an ‘absolute’ offence).

  • Possess, control, transport, sell, exchange or offer for sale/exchange any live or dead bat or any part of a bat.

  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat at a roost.

  • Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a roost.

Bat Survey Timeline

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Bat Potential Survey:

A bat potential survey is used to find out if a site is likely to be used by roosting, foraging and/or commuting bats and is the first port of call for bat surveys. A detailed search of habitat, buildings interiors and exteriors and trees is conducted during daylight hours in order to identify potential bat roosting sites and look for evidence of bat activity. This survey can take place at any time of the year. As part of this report, we also include a desktop survey of all records of bats and designated sites within 2km of the site.

Bat Emergence/Re-Entry Survey:

After a bat potential survey has confirmed potential for bats, emergence/re-entry surveys are used to find out if bats are using structures or trees on site as roosting sites. Emergence/re-entry surveys are conducted either 15 minutes before sunset and up to two hours after or up to 2 hours before sunrise and 15 minutes after. Depending on the nature of the roost, one – three surveys are usually required. Due to the lifecycle of bats, emergence surveys are conducted between the months of May through to August, and can occasionally run into September.

Bat Activity Survey:

Activity surveys are used to establish how foraging and commuting bats use the site. Transects are designed based on data from initial potential surveys and walked to record the number of bats, flight direction, flight height and behaviour. Automated detectors are also left on site. Again, due to the lifecycle of bats, activity surveys can be conducted between the months of April through to October.

If bat roosts are found during these surveys, recommendations for how to proceed will be provided. This may mean timing works outside of the bat breeding season and applying for a Natural England licence.

Bat Hibernation Survey:

A confirmed roost may be used as a hibernation roost, which is of high value in any bat population. A combination of endoscopy and automated detector surveys are employed to establish if a building or structure is home to this high value roost type.

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