SLR advice on protected bat species, development sites and licencing

As habitat loss pushes wildlife to the brink, many species are now protected by either UK or European legislation. This is sound from an ecological perspective but can cause increased time delays and costs to developers – particularly at proposed development sites where only one or two animals have been recorded. SLR Senior Ecologist Rebecca Hendry explains how a new licence for bat mitigation is helping to streamline this process: “Bats are a European protected species (EPS) and the disturbance, damage or destruction of their roosts is prohibited under European and UK legislation. “For sites located in England, the occurrence of even a single bat requires a developer to engage in a lengthy application process for a EPS mitigation (EPSM) licence from Natural England (NE). This delays any works affecting bat roosts while the application is prepared and NE subsequently determines whether the proposed methods and mitigation are suitable to allow works to go ahead. “However, in 2014 an alternative form of licensing was trialled and introduced by NE; the Bat Low Impact Class Licence (BLICL). This permits licensed ecologists, who are NE Registered Consultants (RC), to oversee developments determined to have a low impact on certain bat species and roost types, but which still need to be licensed in order to meet legal requirements. “The BLICL streamlines the application process for a licence as the RC takes on much of the assessment that NE currently carries out for a full EPSM licence. The result – a single site registration form, prepared by the RC, and only a two to three week period of determination by NE. “When compared with the substantial amount of documentation required by an ecologist and the developer for a full EPSM licence and a six week period of determination by NE, it is clear that the use of the BLICL in appropriate situations can result in reduced paperwork and time delays, thereby greatly reducing costs to developers. “The benefits of this licence can only really be reaped when a full and robust suite of bat surveys has already been undertaken. It is not a ‘quick fix’ for a last minute discovery of a bat in a building and developers are still required to ensure that bat survey work is completed to current best practice standard prior to applying for a BLICL.”  
Criteria to be considered for the BLICL
Site type: Small sites less than 1ha Yes
Bigger sites over 1ha Can be licenced in certain circumstances
Bat numbers: <10 present Yes (of the seven most commonly occurring bat species present: Common pipistrelle; Soprano pipistrelle; Brown long eared; Natterers; Whiskered; Brandt’s or Daubenton’s)
Roosting patterns: No more than three of the seven common species are roosting in the site Yes
No more than three roosts in total are within the site Yes
The roost types are of lower significance – night roosts, day roosts, feeding roosts, transitional/occasional roosts Yes
Other criteria: There are no other bat mitigation licenses for the site Yes (you cannot register part of a site for BLICL and submit and full EPSM licence for another part of the site)
For further information please contact: Rebecca Hendry