Bats

There are many issues to consider when thinking about a home extension or a new build. In terms of an extension, thought should be given to how the new space will work with and complement your existing home; for a complete new build, the design of the building and the interior space configuration will be important. From a practical perspective, anything outside a modest extension (so called ‘permitted developments’) will require planning permission.
As part of the planning process, consideration should be given to the natural environment and the protected species that live within it. Perhaps the species which can have the greatest impact on new developments is bats.

Of the seventeen species of British bats, eleven are found in County Durham and ten in Northumberland ranging from the common (the pipistrelle) to the rare (Brandt’s bat). All are protected under European Law.

Bats roost in buildings and changes to existing buildings or new builds can impact on this environment. As the Bat Conservation Trust (www.bats.org.uk) states, ‘demolition of old buildings, renovations, changes in use, artificial lighting and the move towards air-tight buildings, all have implications for bat populations using buildings.’
If bats are suspected to use a proposed new development or redevelopment site then a bat survey should be carried out as part of the planning process (if no survey is undertaken then the local planning authority can request that one is done). The survey should be completed by a trained ecologist.

Legislation

Applications are not likely to be refused if bats are found. Developers will need to acquire a European protected species mitigation licence. Acceptable elements of mitigation against habitat loss or disturbance include modification to development plans and the establishment of new roosts.
Where bats are concerned, it is prudent to comply with existing legislation. Naturally, the primary reason for this is to protect bats’ habitats. But ignorance of the legislation could also significantly impact on your finances. Earlier this year a firm was convicted for disturbing a bat roost during renovations to a roof in Matlock, Derbyshire. In a ruling the Bat Conservation Trust described as the ‘most significant conviction for bat crime ever recorded,’ the company was fined almost £6000.
Whatever new development you might be considering, here at Conroy and Sons we have a wealth of experience of building new homes and extensions. Do give us a call on Freephone 0800 3118 321 – we’ll be happy to discuss your plans with you and we promise not to drive you batty.