Bat populations have plummeted in recent times, leading to them being added to the European Protected Species List in 1991. In the UK, breaking the bat protection laws can result in up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a unlimited fine.
In this guide, our experts talk you through why bats are protected species in the UK and how things like Bat Access Tiles can help you to legally and safely complete property developments where bats are roosting.
Why are Bats Protected Species in the UK?
It turns out that the loss of roosting sites, reduction in foraging habitats and fragmented commuting routes, combined with the naturally slow breeding of bats have left the species at serious risk of extinction.
In England and Wales, bat conservation laws have existed since 1981 with the Wildlife & Countryside Act. As of 2017, there are 4 pieces of legislation that are relevant to the conservation of bat roosts.
- Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)
- Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000)
- Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006)
- Conservation of Habitats and Species (2010)
Bat Roosts and Property Developments
This is demonstrated by the penalty convictions associated with failure to comply with these laws including 6 months in prison, unlimited fines and the confiscation of any profits made as a consequence of not following the laws or items used to commit the crimes (such as vehicles and machinery).
When it comes to property/household ownership, there are several groups that should take bat conservation legislation into consideration.
- Property and household owners
- Pest controllers
- Architects, builders, roofers and property developers
- Demolition companies
How does Bats Roosting affect UK Building Regulations?
If there were evidence of a bat roost on a property, the Local Planning Authority would expect to be notified and request that a bat survey be conducted. The results of the survey will be considered in granting planning permission.
A bat conservation plan may be recommended by an ecologist as a condition in order for the planning permission application to be successful.
You can read about how you can fulfill these conditions with bat roost conservation solutions in our Bats and Building Work article.
What are the UK's Bat Protection Laws?
- Don't deliberately move, kill or injure a bat.
- Don't intentionally disturb a bat roost or group of bats.
- Don't damage a breeding or resting area for bats.
- Don't obstruct access to a bat roost.
- Don't advertise, sell or exchange any wild bat species.
What is the punishment for breaking UK Bat Protection Laws?
If you are found guilty of breaking any of the UK's Bat Protection Laws you can face the punishment of up to 6 months in prison and an unlimited fine. The fine is typically calculated at up to £5,000 per bat.
How to avoid breaking Bat Protection Laws?
Renovating or converting a building is listed as one of the activities that can harm bats and bat habitats.
In most cases, you should be able to avoid harming bats and their habitats.
But you'll need an expert to do a bat survey before any work is completed or face criminal charges of up to £5,000 fine per bat and the possibility of up to six months imprisonment.
It is worth noting that the largest ever fine for wildlife crime in the UK is £600,000 back in 2020 for the demolition of a building that bats inhabited.
You can use this directory to find a registered expert near you: Bat Survey Directory.
What is included in a Bat Survey?
A bat survey report will include ecologists inspecting your property's internal and external structure in search of evidence of bat activity. This will be combined with historic records of bats in the area and talking with stakeholders familiar with the layout and structure of the building.
Examples of these include but are not limited to, the property owners, occupants, architects or conservationists.
The bat survey consultant will then create a report that includes videos, images and building plans that show evidence of either confirmed potential access points or roost sites for the bats, along with other evidence of activity such as bat droppings.
If there is overwhelming evidence of bat activity, the bat consultant will collaborate with key stakeholders to create an acceptable work plan that avoids breaching any of the UK bat protection laws; whilst also conserving the building's historic architecture.
One of the options the survey will recommend is bat access tiles.
What are Bat Access Tiles?
Bat access tiles replace roof tiles or slates and allow access for bats into the roof space or batten cavity. This allows bats easy access to their roosting spots within roofs.
Bats are fairly well-behaved inhabitants and often there can be minimal or no signs of their presence. They do not damage your property and there is no known health risk associated with living in close proximity to bats in the UK.
Bat Access Tiles can be produced in lead or slate.
At Beddoes Products we manufacture Bat Access Tiles using either lead or real slate in two standard sizes of 24 x 12 inch and 20 x 10 inch.
For more information or to buy online from Beddoes Products, explore our Bat Access Slate products.
You can also make your own bat access slate with our Bat Access Tile Kit.