Bats in the Attic – A Guide for Roofing Contractors
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been bringing you information on bats – not the sports type, but the fascinating little creatures that we see flitting around in the sky as dusk falls. They’re difficult to spot but if you look skywards during the twilight, you can often see them flying around trees and rooftops. Bats, as we’ve already mentioned, are naturally drawn to caves to make their roosts. However, when there are no caves available, they look for other dark, quiet spaces in which to make their homes and attics have proven to be perfect real estate property for the bat population of the UK.
Bats enjoy protective legislation here in the UK, some types of bat are “indicator species” because changes to the bat populations can indicate changes in aspects of biodiversity. Some bats help to control pests by eating insects and some pollinate flowers or spread their seeds – so it’s vital that these bats do not become at risk of extinction. Destroying a roost can result in hefty fines of up to £5,000 per bat or, in the more serious cases, a six-month jail sentence.
The Bat Conservation Trust is a great resource for advice on how to help preserve bats here in the UK, with information for construction professionals on what to do if you come across a roost whilst carrying out refurbishment or demolition work.
As we pointed out last week, if as a roofing contractor you’re required to work on a property with a bat roost, or if you discover bats as you work, you must immediately down tools and contact a statutory nature conservation organisation (SNCO) for advice. You’ll need to call in an ecological consultant to carry out an ecological assessment of the site. The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management has a list of UK ecological consultants.
Depending on the location of the site, the habitats on the site and in the surrounding environment, the ecological consultant may need to take all or some of the following steps:
- Perform a bat survey and produce a report of findings, including details of roosts, where and what type of bat species is present.
- Create a mitigation plan or method statement detailing any works on site that may impact bats, including how the effect on bats can be mitigated. This report must be hared with architects and building contractors.
- Integrate the bat survey report and the mitigation plan/method statement into the planning application.
- Apply for planning permission.
- Apply for a European Protected Species licence.
- If granted, carry out works under the supervision of an ecologist and in compliance with any other required working methods required in the method statement.
- Perform a compliance check to ensure that mitigation is being correctly implemented.
- Monitor the site to check the response of the bat population to the mitigation.
Following these guidelines may delay works and add to the costs, but never be tempted to neglect reporting the presence of bats if you discover them. The stringent fines and potential jail sentence are just not worth the risk.