Know your responsabilities

In the UK, all bats and their roosts are protected by law. A roost is defined as any place a wild bat uses for shelter or protection. It doesn’t matter how many bats there are; even one bat counts as a roost. It also doesn’t matter what species they are, or how long they’ve been using the building.

While bats sometimes use a roost for only part of the year, they are often very loyal to these roosts and will return each year at the same time. Therefore, roosts are protected all year round, whether occupied or not.

It’s illegal to disturb or harm bats, or damage, destroy, or obstruct a roost. Doing any of these is an absolute offence, meaning it’s against the law whether the person doing it knew about the roost beforehand or not.

The presence of bats in any building can never entirely be ruled out. Everyone involved in construction, maintenance or pest control should know what signs to look out for and what to do if they find bats or signs of bats during work.

If you already know a building has bats, or have good reason to suspect it does, then you should consider the bats from the earliest stages of planning your work. The presence of bats doesn’t mean work can’t be done, but it does need to be done in a way that won’t disturb the bats or destroy their roost. Depending on the situation, this could mean:

  • Doing the work at a particular time of year
  • Using or avoiding particular materials or chemicals
  • Avoiding or reducing the amount of lighting being installed
  • Retaining or creating access points for the bats
  • Having the work supervised by an expert
  • Obtaining a licence from your Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation

Read more about things to consider when planning works here.

This may seem complicated, but don’t worry. There’s lots of help and support available, and often it’s free of charge.

Advice for developers can be found here.

Information and guidance on buildings, planning and development can be found here.