If you’re a homeowner planning some building work or renovations on your property, bats probably aren’t the first thing you are going to be thinking about.
But it's certainly something that you can’t ignore in the UK as bats are on the protected species list and not dealing with these issues early on has been known to hold up building projects for months.
If you breach any of the bat protection laws by disturbing, displacing or killing bats, you can be subject to up to 6 months of imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
In this guide to bats and building work, we provide you with an overview of what you need to know about bats, building regulations and common solutions like Bat Access Slates and Bat Access Tile Kits.
What is the UK Legislation for Bats and Building Work?
Bat protection legislation is most likely not your first thought when planning a construction or renovation project. However, adhering to the laws surrounding bats and building work is a consideration that needs to be addressed early in the planning process of any renovation or construction work on a property.
When it comes to bats, the first you need to know is that all types of bats are protected species in the UK. So, if you find a bat or evidence of bat activity, you will need to ensure that any of the renovation or construction work you intend to complete, adhered to the legal legislation around bat conservation.
There are 4 pieces of legislation that affect bats and building work. As with all legislation, the wording can be lengthy and difficult to understand. So at Beddoes Products, we have put together a quick summary of the UK’s Bat Protection Legislation:
What Types of Building Work need to consider Bat Legislation in the UK?
Re-roofing, construction and demolition projects, extensions or conversion proposals can all affect bats or a bat roost in a building or barn. It is also important to note that these spaces are protected even when the bats are not actively staying in the roosts.
To make the planning process run as smoothly as possible, it is always a good idea to ask for a bat protection survey of where bat roosts are likely to be. Even if you believe there to be no bats in the property you wish to alter, it is definitely worth investigating for bat activity if your building or barn:
- has little or no disturbance from artificial lighting
- is close to woodland or water
- has uneven roof tiles and large roof timbers
- has cracks, crevices and small openings
- has a roof that warms in the sun with a large roof space for flying
- has hanging tiles or timber cladding on south-facing walls and has not been used for several years
If you would like to find out more about the bat protection laws for the UK, you can read the full legislation at UK Government Bat Protection Laws.
How to check for Bat Roosts on your Property?
Before undertaking any of the suggestions below on how to check for bat roosts in your property, it is important to ensure that during your investigation you do not disturb or harm any bats or roosts.
If you do, you may be found guilty of breaching the bat protection laws and can face up to 6 months imprisonment in addition to an unlimited fine.
The following signs can help you identify if you have any bats roosting on your property:
- Bat droppings - These have a crumbly texture as opposed to mouse droppings which dry hard.
- Emergence - Look out for bats re-emerging from the roost during peak months (see calendar later in this post).
- Bat chattering - Listen closely for a high-pitched clicking sound. If there is a big enough group, you might hear a chirping sound.
- Feeding remains - Bats eat the bodies of large insects like moths and butterflies, often leaving behind the head and wings.
- Scratching and tracks - These signs are less common but still visible in some instances.
These are some of the things you can look out for yourself. But you will eventually need a professional bat survey.
What to do if Bats are Roosting on my Property?
If you already know you have a building with bats or suspect you do based on any evidence from the signs listed above, then it's a good idea to consider the bats during the early planning stages of your project.
It's important to get your bat survey completed by a professional ecologist. You can search for one using the database of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
Once you’ve confirmed that you have bats at the property, it’s time to look at what you can do about it.
The bat survey includes a site visit to identify whether you do have bats roosting on your property. Followed by a report that provides advice and steps you must take to adhere to bat protection laws when completing your construction project.
Working with your ecological consultant, there are a couple of common ways to complete your building work without breaking bat protection laws:
- Get a bat mitigation license (if the proposal is likely to affect the bats)
- Plan building works around bat seasons
- Create access for bats
How can you create an Bat Access Points on your Property?
One of the main reasons that bats are protected, even within domestic properties, is that they cause no known harm to humans. Typically the cheapest and fastest way to get planning permission and to safely complete your construction or renovation project without breaching bat laws, is to provide access points for the bats to reach their roosts.
The most commonly used methods to protect bat roosts are either bat boxes or bat access tiles. These ensure that the bats can either still access their original roosting spots or have an alternative spot to safely create their roost.
What Size Bat Access Point is Required?
The size of the bat access point will depend on the type of bat at your property. Almost all bat species are small (with the exception of the Horseshoe bat). This means that they can land on the building and crawl into their roost.
As the exception, the larger Horseshoe bat has a wider wingspan. And they tend to fly into their roost and hang upside down. Which explains why they need a bigger roost.
Where will I need to put Bat Access Points?
The location of a bat access point will depend on the building work and the type of roost. Ideally, you should aim to keep the new access point as close to the original roost as possible. Consulting with the ecologist who completed your bat protection survey can be important in this step.
As most renovation or conversion projects tend to be on older properties that have a slate roof the most common solution is a bat access tile.
At Beddoes Products, we have developed some component products for creating bat entry tiles. These components can be found in our Bat Access Slate and our Bat Access Tile Kit.