Bat survey York

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 York

Plans for development schemes in York may well need to involve bat surveys. While discovering bats during the planning stage of a project may well slow the process down, it does not mean that the scheme can’t proceed. Providing the recommendations in a bat survey are implemented correctly, there’s a good chance that your project can go ahead.

York city centre.

Finding bats

Bats often seek roosting sites in mature buildings, especially dry lofts which they access via lifted tiles, gaps in slate roofs and gable ends. As well as buildings, bats can roost in trees and hedgerows, and are attracted to sites close to rivers and streams where they feed on insects hovering over the water. The North Yorkshire Bat Group monitors bat activity locally, while nationally bats are safeguarded by the Bat Conservation Trust, Natural England, DEFRA and CIEEM.

There are 11 species of bats present in York and the nearby countryside including brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus), Brandt’s bats (Myotis brandti), Daubenton’s bats (Myotis daubentonii), Natterer’s bats (Myotis nattereri), common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus), soprano pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), Nathusius’ pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus nathusii), Alcathoe bats (Myotis alcathoe), Noctule bats (Nyctalus noctula) and Leislers bats (Nyctalus leisleri).

Protected species: common pipistrelle bats are one of the species that may be found during a bat survey in York.

Bats and the law

It is a criminal offence to disturb bats or bat roosts without permission. Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 protects all 17 European bat species breeding in the UK, making it an offence to intentionally kill or deliberately capture bats, destroy a bat roost, recklessly disturb bats, obstruct access or harm bats in any way. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 also contain legislation that protects bats.

If bats are discovered on a site, a strict procedure must be followed. If appropriate, the recommended mitigation to take will be explained in a bat survey and once correctly implemented, development proposals may well be able to proceed through the local planning process.

York and development

The Local Plan aims to sustain and enhance the city centre with its wealth of historic buildings, alongside encouraging suitable development there. As well as attracting large numbers of tourists, York city is a residential area and a commercial centre with major employers including Norwich Union. York Council wants to enhance the city’s vitality: the York Central project encourages large-scale employment development and sustainable housing close to the centre and new development will be encouraged when it brings vacant upper floors or redundant buildings back into use. As well as the centre of York, the Acomb and Haxby Districts are suitable for new commercial activity.

Applications for housing, employment and leisure facilities must demonstrate that they would reduce car use and be well placed for pedestrian, cycleways and public transport networks. Housing is a priority alongside job opportunities: according to the Local Plan, both are achievable by encouraging high-quality businesses and housing development on the York Central site, linked to expansion of the city centre. Housing must be of appropriate design, sustainable, with access to services, and the best use must be made of brownfield sites.

The council wants to preserve the historic townscape features, protect the dominance of York Minster on the York skyline, and enhance the green wedges of the countryside that run into the centre: these historic strays and river corridors are to be extended as they offer ecological diversity and recreational facilities and are part of the historic character of the city.

Bat surveys

You may be required to provide a bat survey if bats are sighted on your proposed development site, or if they have been detected during a preliminary ecological appraisal, an extended phase 1 habitat survey, an ecological impact assessment, or other ecological surveys.

The preliminary roost assessment

The first stage in the bat survey process is the preliminary roost assessment or scoping survey. An ecological consultant will carry out a desk study followed by a site visit when an internal and external inspection of the site will be made, searching for features that could support roosting bats. Buildings and trees in close proximity to the site will be examined for evidence of bat activity such as bat roosts, dead bat carcasses, bat droppings, urine stains, feeding remains, or even a maternity roost. If bat roosts or other evidence of bat activity is discovered, a full bat survey may be required. If the bat surveyor finds no evidence of roosting bats, a planning application should be able to proceed. Preliminary roost assessments can be conducted year-round.

Bat emergence and re-entry surveys

These are also known as bat activity surveys, bat scoping surveys, phase 2 surveys, emergence surveys and dusk emergence and dawn re-entry surveys. Ecological consultants will visit the site on numerous occasions to monitor potential entry and exit points for bats on buildings suspected to contain bat roosts. The use of specialist equipment including bat detectors will enable consultants to determine bat species and population numbers.

If consultants find bats on the site, the bat report will recommend mitigation measures to ensure that the proposed development does not harm bats. Suitable mitigation strategies might include installing bat boxes or relocating bats and when they are implemented, a planning application is likely to succeed. If the outcome of the survey is a likely absence of bats, planning permission should be obtainable. These bat surveys can only be carried out in the bat season; the summer months between May and September.

Planning applications can be granted following preliminary roost assessments and bat emergence surveys, however, in some cases it is necessary to move or disturb bats. To do this, a European Protected Species Licence will be required; bat mitigation licences are issued by the statutory nature conservation organisations Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.

Further surveys

The surveys mentioned above might reveal the presence of other protected species or habitats on the development site, indicating the need for further ecological surveys or European protected species surveys before a planning application can be granted. Examples of other potential surveys include hibernating bat surveys, great crested newt surveys, habitat surveys, reptile surveys or bird surveys.

Arranging a bat survey in York

The first step is to identify an ecological consultancy with experience in carrying out a wide range of ecology surveys in the area in question. The firm should employ fully licensed professional ecologists who work to good practice guidelines for the local planning authority. Engaging experienced bat surveyors means that you will receive expert advice to help you progress with your planning application.

As phase 2 bat surveys are time-sensitive, it’s important to think about your timeframes: preliminary ecological appraisals and preliminary roost assessments can be carried out year-round, but there are seasonal restrictions for bat emergence and re-entry surveys.

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