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Bat survey Poole

Ecological surveys or bat surveys are generally required alongside any planning application for development in Poole. Development projects must demonstrate that if bats are present on the site, they will be carefully considered and managed according to the legislation that protects them. A bat survey will clarify to the local authority that your scheme has implemented the necessary bat mitigation strategy to ensure that bats are not impacted.

Poole Harbour.

Poole and development

Poole in Dorset, in the south east of England, extends from Poole harbour to the Stour River valley in the north, an area of 25sq. m. Dorset is an exceptional county for its beautiful countryside and coastline; Poole itself boasts the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the New Forest and the Isle of Purbeck all within 10 miles, and it is surrounded by Green Belt which has halted expansion.

The Poole Local Plan strategy for 2033 aims to deliver 14,200 new homes, infrastructure and jobs, while regenerating the town centre. Other strategies include boosting sustainable growth in identified areas and establishing the Stour Valley Park, a public space that will eventually extend from Wimborne to Christchurch and attract investment in business and housing. The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership Strategic Economic Vision for 2033 envisages Poole, Bournemouth and the surrounding urban area as home to sectors including advanced engineering manufacturing and financial services, which requires a supply of employment land and housing growth. Looking after the interests of the natural world, The Dorset Local Nature Partnership aims to maintain and create quality natural environments near places where people live and space for wildlife to thrive.

Sensitive environment

Planning guidance states that any development must take all environmental interests into account, such as trees, landscape, open space and wildlife, and must carefully mitigate its impact on any European protected species present. Poole harbour, one of the world’s largest natural harbours, and areas of lowland heathland such as Canford Heath have internationally protected habitats: the council has a legal duty to protect them. Poole harbour development must be mindful not to affect the integrity of the harbour or disturb protected birds.

The law relating to bats

As a European protected species, it is a criminal offence to interfere with, disturb bats or destroy bat roosts as detailed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. The Dorset Bat Group conducts research and can provide further information about the county’s bats; it is a partner to the Bat Conservation Trust which provides national guidance on bats.

European protected species: a grey long eared bat.

Bat species in Poole

Not surprisingly with its southerly position and suitable habitat, all 17 UK breeding bat species have been sighted in Dorset. Rare bat species including Barbastelle bats (Barbastella barbastellus), greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), lesser horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros), mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis) and grey long eared bats (Plecotus austriacus) are found here while the New Forest hosts Bechstein’s bats (Myotis bechsteinii). More common species include the Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandti), brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii), Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri), noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula), common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii), soprano pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus), Leisler’s bat (Nyctalus leisleri), and whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus).

Bat surveys

Evidence of bats, socialising bats or roosting bats may have been identified during a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal/Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey, leading to the requirement for a bat survey. The early stage survey is a Preliminary Roost Assessment, and if this indicates that bats are present, a Bat Emergence and Re-entry survey will be needed. Bat surveys give the planning authority a full picture of your site enabling it to assess your planning application.

Preliminary Roost Assessments (PRAs)

The preliminary roost assessment or bat scoping survey starts the bat survey process. During a site visit, an ecological consultant will make an external inspection of trees and buildings and an internal inspection of buildings, looking for evidence of bats such as roosting bats, bat droppings, dead bats, remains of prey, or potential roosting features bearing in mind that bats can move bat roosts several times in one year.

If this bat survey finds evidence of bats or potential bat roost opportunities and the consultant concludes that the development proposals would disturb bats, further bat surveys will be needed. However, if the bat surveyor decides that there is a likely absence of bats on the site, or that bats would not be impacted by the plans, the bat report should be sufficient to allow the local authority to grant full planning permission.

Bat Emergence and Re-entry surveys (BERS)

Also known as bat emergence surveys, bat activity surveys, dawn surveys, dawn re-entry surveys or dusk emergence surveys, BERS are carried out over several visits to a site. Potential entry and exit points for bats at set locations on buildings will be monitored by ecological consultants at dusk and dawn. Specialist equipment will be used such as infrared cameras and automated bat detectors that record bat activity and identify species present from bat calls. The ecological consultant will recommend a suitable bat mitigation strategy such as introducing bat boxes in the right place, which when implemented, will provide information to allow the local planning authority to grant full planning permission.

Further ecological surveys

Sometimes it is necessary to move or disturb bats; this requires the expertise of consultants who hold European Protected Species Licences: a bat licence application must be made to Natural England or Natural Resources Wales. Findings from bat surveys might include evidence of other European protected species on the site, leading to the requirement for further surveys such as a great crested newt survey, a badger survey or a protected habitat survey.

Bat surveys and timeframes

While a Preliminary Roost Assessment can be undertaken year-round, Bat emergence and Re-entry Surveys have seasonal constraints and can only be carried out between the summer months of May and September, so it’s important to factor this into your works schedule to avoid delays.

Do you need a bat survey in Poole?

The first step is to identify an ecological consultancy that’s experienced in completing bat survey work for the local planning authority.

Surveys conducted by a consultancy that employs fully licensed consultants will mean that you receive expert advice to get an overall picture of your scheme and help you achieve planning permission.

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