When did bats become a protected species and why are they a major factor affecting building regulations?

Bat populations have plummeted in recent times, leading to them being added to the European Protected Species List in 1991. At first, I thought it might be that they just stopped mating because they’re so ugly that they didn’t want to reproduce with each other. 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 are a serious matter and 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


So how does this affect 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.


We’ll look at how you can fulfill these conditions with bat roost conservation solutions in another post.
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