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Bat Habitats Regulation Bill – UPDATE 2016

22 January 2016

Further to our previous post about the revival of the Bat Habitats Regulation Bill in the House of Lords on the 11th of June 2015 (read the article HERE). The Bill has also had its first reading in the House of Commons on the 6th of July and is now expected to have a second reading on Friday 5th of February.

The Bill is once again sponsored by Christopher Chope MP who is seeking to limit the protection for bats and its habitats inside places of worship. The Bat Conservation Trust believes this bill is impractical and would be very detrimental to bat populations. We understand the serious problems that some churches experience with bats. However we believe that in many instances, practical solutions for churches can be achieved through targeted support and advice and we are certain that many churches could be helped to coexist with bat populations. Indeed many churches already coexist with bats without a problem, and are even proud to help nature conservation.

Bats are protected by the Habitats Directive because of the severe declines they have experienced in the past through habitat loss, agricultural intensification, roost destruction, pesticides and deliberate killing. Bats are currently one of the wildlife groups that appear to be responding to the protection afforded by the Habitats Directive and the sustained effort that government, the public and conservationists have made to conserve them. To enable bat populations to continue to recover, we need the help of everyone including Churches, in many cases church roosts are of high conservation value to bats. The Habitats Directive provides an essential mechanism for safeguarding vulnerable species and habitats whilst ensuring social and economic needs are met. Diluting or requesting exemptions to this legislation will certainly harm wildlife and will not be a positive way forward for churches either.

You might have written to your MP’s before when we first raised this issue (read HERE) and again when we included it in the latest issue of Bat News magazine but bats are still under threat and could use your support! We are asking everyone who cares about bats to speak up for them in order to protect these amazing animals. Please write or email your MP’s before the second reading takes place on the 5th of February (note that private members bills like this are often postponed so the date may change). We have prepared some suggested wording that you can use (see HERE) and you can find your MP’s email address HERE (please include your address when you contact your MP so that they know you are a constituent). Do also email us any responses you receive by forwarding them to comms@bats.org.uk

Bat Conservation Trust is aware that the second reading might not happen but we believe it is our responsibility, as a bat conservation organisation, to speak up for bats whenever they are under threat. We hope you share the same passion for bats and join us in keeping them safe once again. 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only national organisation solely devoted to the conservation of bats and their habitats in the UK. Its network of 100 local bat groups and more than 1,000 bat workers survey roosts and hibernation sites, and work with householders, builders, farmers and foresters to protect bats. www.bats.org.uk

All British bats are protected under British law, because of severe declines in bat numbers during the twentieth century. Loss of roosting habitat to development and construction, loss of foraging habitat as farming practice has changed (using pesticide and losing meadows and hedgerows)  and loss of hedgerows, waterways and commuting routes  linking the two all contributed to the declines in bat populations.

Because of widespread population declines and continued vulnerability, all British bat species are European protected species and afforded a high level of protection under both the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Deliberately capturing, disturbing, injuring and killing bats is prohibited, as is damaging or destroying their breeding sites and roosts.

The Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228 is for anyone who needs help with bats If you find a grounded or injured bat, believes bats to be at risk or think you may have bats or want to let us know about a bat roost site please call the Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228

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