Need a bat survey in Wokingham?

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 Wokingham

If there is a reasonable likelihood that bats are present on your development site, a bat survey will be needed to enable you to secure planning permission from the local council. Bats may be found near bodies of water such as the Emm Brook in Wokingham, as they feed on insects hovering above the surface. Bat roosts are also commonly found in older, pre-1914 buildings and listed buildings where bats access roosting sites by squeezing through small gaps under slate roofs and hanging tiles into roof cavities.

New housing development in Wokingham.

Development in Wokingham, Berkshire

A new Local Plan outlining the planning strategy until 2040 is being finalised, and will cater for more housing, employment, schools, roads, parks, and shops. Wokingham Council has exceeded the number of homes required by some 2,000 properties in the current Local Plan, but the government has said that this over-provision cannot be carried over into the new Local Plan, which will indicate new housing supply targets.

Housing needs and housing types are now being scrutinised by the council for the new Plan which will set out where development will be located. Wokingham Borough’s current Core Strategy, which extends to 2026, aims to concentrate development in a few locations so that services and infrastructure can be delivered easily, and access is good to schools and community facilities. Priorities are to protect the borough’s most important areas for biodiversity and landscape from development, including protecting internationally important wildlife sites.

Protection for bats and bat roosts

Bats are highly safeguarded by law as a protected species. Legislation 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 protects bats and other protected species.

Bats and planning applications

Developers must comply with the legal obligations surrounding protected species such as bats. Through the planning application process, they must demonstrate to the local authority that any risks the development poses for bats will be correctly dealt with via a bat survey. Penalties for not adhering to the law surrounding bats, disturbing bat habitat, or harming bats without input from an ecological consultant or the correct use of European protected species licences, can lead to fines, prosecution and even a custodial sentence.

Bats species in Wokingham

Berkshire is home to 14 out of the 18 species of bats native to the UK. Bats sighted in Wokingham include alcathoe bats (Myotis alcathoe), Brandt’s bats (Myotis brandti), brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus), Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii), common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), soprano pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) and whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus).

The Berks & South Bucks Bat Group provides information about bats in the local area, while all UK bat species are protected by The Bat Conservation Trust which follows Natural England guidelines on protected species.

Protected species: only qualified ecologists can conduct bat surveys for species such as this brown long eared bat found in Berkshire.

Preliminary roost assessments, bat emergence and re-entry surveys, and further surveys

Preliminary roost assessment

The first step in the bat survey process is the phase 1 preliminary roost assessment or bat scoping survey. This involves an ecology consultant making an initial internal and external inspection of the development site, searching for bat presence such as roosting bats, bat carcasses, bat droppings, prey remains or features suitable for hosting a hibernation roost, maternity roost or other forms of bat roost.

If the ecology consultant concludes that there is a likely absence of bats and bat roosts, this will be made clear in the bat survey report and no further bat surveys will be needed. However, if bats are present and the proposed development plans could disturb them in any way, a mitigation plan will be required, or further surveys: the most common is a phase 2 bat survey known as an emergence and re-entry survey.

Bat emergence and re-entry survey

Also known as bat activity surveys or dusk and dawn bat surveys, these can only be conducted in the summer months between May and September. Over several visits to the site at dusk and dawn, an ecology team will monitor suspected entry and exit points and record bats. After this bat survey, the lead ecology consultant can draw up a mitigation strategy for the bat survey report detailing the bat scoping surveys and bat activity surveys carried out. It will include evidence and details of the mitigation measures necessary to secure planning permission from the local authority, which could include installing bat boxes.

While the preliminary roost assessment and bat emergence and re-entry survey will enable you to secure planning consent, if you need to move or disturb bats, a Natural England bat licence may be required.

Bat surveys in Wokingham

Engaging an ecological consultancy that employs fully licensed bat surveyors is important if bat surveys are required. Ideally, they should be well-versed in completing bat surveys for the relevant local planning authority. Fully qualified bat consultants can provide expert advice that will help you progress to a successful application for planning permission. Their bat survey must reassure the planning authority that they are following all guidance relating to protected species surveys.

Timing your bat survey is important; remember that bat emergence surveys can only take place in the summer months between April and October (the optimal timeframe is between May and September). A preliminary bat roost assessment, however, can be carried out at any time of year.

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