Free bat advice service in England

In England, the Bat Conservation Trust’s National Bat Helpline administers the free advice service on behalf of Natural England.

It will really help if you can gather as much information as possible about the proposed work before you contact us, including the areas of the building that will be affected, the materials you plan to use, the length of time you expect it to take, and any specification or quote provided by your builder. You may also want to take a look at our ‘things to consider when planning works’ webpage so you have an idea of how your plans might fit in with the standard guidance.

Getting advice under Natural England’s free service will generally involve a volunteer visiting your roost to gather more information. The service relies on the generosity of these volunteers, who do this work in addition to full-time jobs and other commitments. Some areas have more volunteers and higher demand than others, so we can’t guarantee how long it will be before someone’s able to visit you. In rare cases, we may have to recommend you hire an ecological consultant if no volunteer is available.

Following the visit, you will receive advice (usually via email) from Natural England detailing how and when you can carry out the work in a safe and legal way. It’s important that you don’t begin work until you’ve received this. While the volunteer may tell you their recommendations during the visit, the official advice needs to be confirmed by Natural England.

Your advice will include dates when you can do the work. It’s only valid until the last date it gives for work has passed. If the work isn’t complete by then, or you need to do more work, you’ll need to contact us again for further advice.

Free visits during the pandemic

We are pleased to announce that from Tuesday 21st July 2020 we can now organize in-person visits to eligible dwellings and places of worship, under certain strict conditions. As we rely on the generosity of volunteers to carry out these surveys, we will be limited by the number of surveys we can organise at any one time.

At the current time, we can only offer visits for:

  • Domestic dwelling cases that can be assessed externally (e.g. emergence surveys)
  • Domestic dwelling cases where there are urgent, essential works and pest control (e.g. where there is a human or bat welfare concern)
  • Domestic dwelling issues cases that can be assessed externally

We will not organize external visits for the below cases. Please do not contact the Helpline if this is relevant to you. Our Helpline staff are not able to provide any further information than can be found on the web page regarding the recommencement of visits. Changes to these conditions will be published on this webpage, so please do check back for updates.

  • Cases that require entry to the loft space (dwellings)
  • Non-essential works in dwellings (e.g. no human or bat welfare concern in delaying)
  • Cases where any person at the property is self-isolating, showing symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolating or shielding
  • Any other building or structure besides dwellings and places of worship

If you have already been in touch with us about your query, please have your case reference ready to quote when contacting the Helpline.

This web page will be updated when more kinds of roost visits can be organised, so please check back regularly if you are not yet eligible.

The National Bat Helpline is only possible thanks to the generosity of people like you. This vital service helps thousands of people by providing advice for free, this in turn saves thousands of bats every year. Partial funding from Natural England helps cover some of our running costs, but it does not cover everything. Your donation will help ensure Bat Conservation Trust can continue to provide assistance and a lifeline for bats.

Click here for more information and to donate.

Next: Free advice service for places of worship in England