Need a bat survey in Suffolk?

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 Suffolk

Any property development scheme in Suffolk is likely to need a bat survey as part of the planning application.

If bats are present on your site, your scheme may well be able to go ahead, but mitigation and compensation measures might need to be carried out to satisfy the local planning authority.

Timber-framed houses in Lavenham, Suffolk.

Development in Suffolk

A largely rural county in the east of England, Suffolk offers a wide range of biodiversity and habitats suitable for many European protected species. Bats are the most common European protected species; others include barn owls, great crested newts, reptiles, otters and badgers. As well as vast green spaces, Suffolk is home to many major towns including Ipswich, Lowestoft, Bury St. Edmunds, Haverhill, Felixstowe, Sudbury and Stowmarket. Bats roost and breed in rural and urban areas, finding spaces to shelter in trees and hedgerows, under hanging tiles, damaged bargeboards and loose tiles.

While development must be balanced with protecting the county’s diverse natural environment, the Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy aims to invest in infrastructure, affordable housing, roads, rail and be a centre for clean energy: the area is the UK’s epicentre for energy generation with its mix of onshore and offshore renewables, gas and nuclear generation. The plan is to deliver sustainable, energy-efficient homes and commercial spaces, and nurture vibrant cities, towns and communities.

Bat species in Suffolk

These include Barbastelle bats (Barbastella barbastellus), Brandts bats (Myotis brandtii), brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus), common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii), Leisler’s bats (Nyctalus leisleri), lesser horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros), Nathusius’ pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus nathusii), Natters bats (Myotis nattereri), Noctule bats (Nyctalus noctule), soprano pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus) and whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus).

Bat groups in Suffolk

The Suffolk Bat Group is a specialist organisation within Suffolk Wildlife Trust. It is affiliated with the Bat Conservation Trust and is the county’s main point of contact for all bat-related issues.

Bats and surveys

If there is a likelihood of the potential presence of bats on your proposed development, or your plans could potentially impact bats, a bat survey will be required. Only qualified ecological consultants can conduct bat surveys. An earlier ecological survey such as a Preliminary Ecological Assessment or an Ecological Impact Assessment may have triggered the need for further surveys to provide more information.

Stage 1: the preliminary roost assessment (PRA).

This stage one bat survey involves an ecologist inspecting a site for signs of bat activity. They will look for bat roosts, feeding remains, bat droppings, dead bat carcasses and suitable habitat for supporting a bat roost. If no evidence of bat activity is detected on the site, a recommendation that planning permission be granted will be sent to the local authority. If the presence of bats cannot be eliminated, ecological consultants will need to carry out further surveys known as bat emergence and re-entry surveys (BERS).

Stage 2: bat emergence and re-entry surveys (BERS).

These surveys are also known as bat activity surveys or dusk entry and dawn re-entry surveys. Ecologists must attend the site on several occasions at different times of the day to monitor potential entry and exit locations. These surveys have a strict timeframe and must be undertaken between May and September. Ecologists will use specialist equipment including static bat detectors to record bat calls, enabling them to assess bat species and population numbers.

Bat activity survey findings will be logged onto a report including bat mitigation measures designed to ensure that the proposed development works will not disturb bats. The information provided should comply with the local authority’s conditions, enabling the application to be approved.

While the two reports above will enable you to secure planning permission, A European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) may be needed to move bats or destroy roosts. If you need a bat mitigation licence as part of your planning application, they are issued by the statutory nature conservation organisation Natural England, and consultants will be able to help with your application.

Installing bat boxes may form part of mitigation measures to help a developer protect bats.

Find a qualified bat surveyor

The first step is to identify an ecological consultancy with experienced and fully licensed bat surveyors. They should be familiar with completing bat surveys for the relevant local planning authority. To avoid delays with your scheme, it’s important to remember that while a preliminary roost assessment can be carried out at any time of year, the bat survey season means that bat emergence and re-entry surveys can only be carried out between May and September.

As well as carrying out a bat survey, a professional ecological consultant can advise you on other protected species surveys that you may need, such as great crested newt surveys, badger surveys or reptile surveys.

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