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Bat surveys and mitigation

Assessing the impacts of development on bats

PlecotusThe Wildlife Partnership works with a range of different clients throughout Scotland from large public and private sector projects to small residential development sites - including re-roofing and extension projects and small scale renewable projects. Each bat survey will therefore be specific to a site and the costs will vary accordingly. However, The Wildlife Partnership is committed to using our expertise in bat ecology to minimise the number of surveys required and as such minimise costs. Too often a lack of experience or planning results in a suite of unnecessary and expensive bat surveys. With appropriate planning a single visit is often sufficient to provide the necessary information to submit to planning. Dr. Barry Nicholls, our licensed bat consultant, has a wealth of experience in both research and consultancy including the publication of numerous scientific papers exploring the foraging and roosting ecology of UK bat species. This level of expertise ensures highly efficient survey techniques and therefore minimal survey time. The Wildlife Partnership will provide a quotation for a bat survey that is both efficient and cost effective to the site specifics. Reports are typically produced within one week of the initial survey however should you have a specific date for submission with a planning application we will do our utmost to accommodate this.

Legislation

There are currently 18 resident species of bat in the UK. All bat species are protected under UK and European legislation, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Conservation (Natural habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended). Together, this legislation makes it illegal to:

  • Intentionally or deliberately take, kill or injure a bat
  • Damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts
  • Deliberately disturb bats

The presence of protected species, such as bats, is now a 'material consideration' when considering a planning application. Therefore it is advisable to consider the presence of bats at an early stage in the development process, preferably at the pre-acquisition or site selection stage, and definitely at the pre-planning application stage.

A bat roost is defined in the legislation as "any structure or place which a bat uses for shelter or protection". Roosts are protected whether or not bats are present at the time. If a development activity is likely to result in the disturbance or killing of a bat, damage to its habitat or any of the other activities listed above, then a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage will usually be required.

Bat Surveys - Buildings

Roosting PlecotusTypically we will carry out an initial building inspection to identify the likelihood of bats being present. This is a thorough assessment and a report at this stage may well be sufficient to submit for planning if there is considered to be no risk to bats. If required, further investigative work can be undertaken including dusk emergence and dawn swarming surveys to identify species and assess roost status. Activity surveys can also identify important commuting and foraging areas. However, The Wildlife Partnership is committed to providing an efficient and cost effective service based on our in depth understanding of UK bat species. Typical examples include listed buildings, Forth Valley Hospitals and Water of Leith.

European Protected Species Licence Application

The legal protection of bat roosts applies even if bats are not present at the time of development. Therefore if a roost is to be disturbed then it will be necessary to apply for a European Protected Species (EPS) licence issued by the relevant competent authority (i.e. Scottish Natural Heritage). The Wildlife Partnership has extensive experience of acting as the named ecologist on licence applications. The licence application will be accompanied by a comprehensive method statement detailing the actions to be carried out under the licence. Typically, mitigation will involve timing works to avoid the active bat season, roost exclusion, and the provision of alternative roosting habitat such as bat boxes.

Aerial Tree Surveys

Aerial bat surveyThe Wildlife Partnership has extensive experience in conducting ground and aerial inspection of trees to assess the impact of arboricultural work on bat species. Our licensed bat ecologists are fully qualified to carry out aerial surveys of trees - NPTC Tree Climbing & Aerial Rescue, LOLER inspected equipment, insurance cover and health and safety systems. Aerial inspections can be carried out throughout the year and provide the most efficient and cost effective method to locate bat roosts in trees such as the tree survey Duddingston. This ensures prompt and conclusive results thereby saving our clients time and money. Our team can be deployed throughout Scotland on projects ranging from individual trees to whole woodlands.

Wind farm bat activity assessments

Temporal activity graphThe Wildlife Partnership has conducted the full suite of bat surveys in support of wind energy developments throughout Scotland. We can deploy all equipment required for both manual and passive bat surveys and are highly experienced in the interpretation and analysis of acoustic data. Experience in this field allows bat activity to be quickly and accurately quantified to species level and bat distribution patterns displayed using Geographical Information Systems. A thorough assessment of the spatial and temporal distribution of bat species is crucial when determining the potential risk of bat mortalities at wind energy facilities. Passive monitoring techniques allow a comprehensive analysis of the temporal distribution of bat species in relation to sunset and sunrise and can be used to infer the relative importance of foraging and commuting routes and the proximity of roosts to the developmental footprint.

Bat Surveys at Height

The Bat Conservation Trust’s: Bat Surveys Good Practice Guidelines 2nd edition recommends that bat surveys at proposed wind energy facilities should include surveys at height where possible. In particular, where wind turbines are “key holed” in small clearings within woodland, automated surveys at height are essential as many bat species will forage above the canopy and will be under-recorded during ground level surveys alone. The Wildlife Partnership has the equipment and expertise to deploy automated bat detectors atop telescopic masts in the most challenging landscapes and conditions. The sensitive microphone of the AnaBat detector can be elevated on the mast to a height of 15m. The microphone is housed in a weather-proof casing and a polycarbonate sound reflector plate on the microphone enclosure ensures that the angle of call reception is upward at 45 degrees. The microphone is connected, via a Canare brand electronics cable, to a bat detection and recording system housed on the ground in a weather and dust proof container. This system has been deployed on several upland sites in extreme conditions and has proven to be a robust and reliable method to record bat species at height.

Radiotracking and Netting Studies

Remote sensing techniques can provide unparalleled information on the foraging and roosting ecology of bat species within a given area. The Wildlife Partnership has a high level of expertise in the design, implementation and analysis of radio telemetry data. This is a powerful technique that can provide essential information on the spatial distribution of bats in relation to proposed developments.

Impact Assessments as part of EIA

Preparation of Ecological Impact Assessment chapter as part of the EIA process with full GIS analysis as required.