Need a bat survey in Liverpool?

Whenever bats are likely to impact your land or property development, a bat survey will be needed to help decide on the next steps to take.

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Bat survey Liverpool

If you have a development project in Liverpool, the local planning authority may well require a bat survey. If bats are present on your site, it does not signal the end of your development hopes; implementing the correct mitigation and compensation measures recommended in a bat survey may allow a scheme to proceed through the planning process.

The Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool.

Protection for bats

As a European protected species, bats have high levels of legal protection. Disturbing bats without permission is a criminal offence: they are protected by legislation in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and all 17 European bat species breeding in the UK are protected under Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, making it an offence to deliberately kill or deliberately capture bats, destroy a bat roost, obstruct access or harm bats in any way.

Bats in Liverpool

This iconic city contains many historic buildings associated with its role as the main port for trans-Atlantic trade in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Such buildings and the many terraced rows of pre-war housing offer suitable roosting habitats for bats: bat roosts can be found in lofts, mature buildings and in trees near foraging areas and natural habitats such as parks. Bats access buildings by squeezing through gaps under weather boarding or loose hanging tiles.

The Merseyside & West Lancashire Bat Group, affiliated with the Bat Conservation Trust, monitors bats in the city. Bats have been sighted on buildings including Anfield Stadium, Goodison Park and St George’s Hall as well as in the city’s parks. The bat species present include Daubenton’s bats, common pipistrelle bats, noctule bats, and brown long-eared bats.

European protected species: an ecological survey in Liverpool may find bat species including noctule bats.

Development in Liverpool, north west England

Liverpool Council is committed to development and recent years have seen major investment in the city centre, key employment locations, and residential areas. Building homes on brownfield sites is a priority and new development should champion outstanding architecture and efficient infrastructure. Alongside this, the council wants to protect the environment and provide access to open space and Liverpool’s rich heritage.

The Liverpool Local Plan 2013-2033 aims to deliver a high quality and diverse mix of housing leading to good quality homes and safe sustainable communities close to shops and services. New homes must have improved space standards and be physically accessible. The trend for city centre living has seen areas around the city centre fringe such as the Baltic Triangle and Leeds Street become residential areas rather than places for businesses and warehousing.

Growth strategy

By 2033 the council aims to see the Liverpool SuperPort initiative generating growth in business, culture and tourism and the growth of Liverpool John Lennon Airport. The waterfront is being developed as a focus for leisure and tourism, and economic development at Speke/Garston and Stonebridge will have been maximised.

There are two designated enterprise zones: Mersey Waters and Liverpool City which offer incentives for companies to set up in the city and for existing businesses to grow by simplifying the planning process. Five Mayoral Development Zones are also set up as key economic areas – North Liverpool, the Knowledge Quarter, Stonebridge Cross, Central Liverpool and South Liverpool.

Bat surveys

The triggers for bat survey work include actual bat sightings, a reasonable likelihood that bats are present on a development site, or bats may have been discovered during a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal or Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey.

Preliminary Roost Assessment

Also known as a Phase 1 Bat Survey or Scoping Bat Survey, this is the first stage in the bat survey process. An ecological consultant will carry out a desk study followed by an internal and external inspection of trees and buildings, looking for suitable bat roosting features, roosting bats, dead bat carcasses, bat droppings, urine stains and feeding remains. If bats are found, the preliminary roost assessment findings will include detailed guidance about the mitigation measures to take to ensure that bats are not impacted by the development work. If there is no evidence of bats, the proposed development projects should be able to proceed.

Bat Emergence and Re-Entry Survey

Second stage bat surveys, also known as bat activity surveys and nocturnal bat surveys, involve a team of ecological consultants carrying out dusk emergence and dawn re-entry surveys at the site on two or three occasions. The bat surveyors will monitor potential entry and exit points for bats on buildings and use specialist equipment including bat detectors to help identify bat species from echolocation calls and calculate population numbers. These bat activity surveys must be carried out in good weather conditions as high winds and heavy rain can be disruptive.

If bats are spotted, the bat report will contain all the details about the mitigation strategies for ensuring they are unharmed by the development work: such measures might include installing bat boxes or relocating bats. If the survey outcome is a likely absence of bats, the bat report should allow the local authority to grant planning permission. Unlike a preliminary roost assessment, emergence bat surveys are restricted to the summer months between May and September.

A preliminary roost assessment and bat activity survey will enable a local authority to grant planning permission, but if you need to disturb bats or destroy bat roosts, a European Protected Species Licence may be needed. These bat mitigation class licences are issued by the statutory nature conservation organisations Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.

Further surveys

The bat surveys described above may identify further protected species or habitats on a site leading to the need for further surveys before planning permission can be granted. The survey work required could include protected species surveys such as great crested newt surveys, badger surveys, barn owl surveys or ecology surveys.

How to arrange a bat survey in Liverpool

The first step is to find a firm that employs fully licensed ecological consultants to give you confidence that you will receive expert advice. Bat surveyors should have extensive experience in carrying out ecological surveys according to best practice guidelines, and offer an efficient service.

As well as providing a bat survey report, bat surveyors can advise you on the necessary steps to achieve success with your planning application.

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