Licences to permit illegal activities relating to bats and their roost sites can be issued for specific purposes and by specific licensing authorities in each country. These are sometimes called 'derogation licences' or 'European Protected Species' licences, and are issued under the Habitats Regulations. It is an offence not to comply with the terms and conditions of a derogation licence. If you carry out work affecting bats or roosts without a licence, you will be breaking the law.

Who needs to take particular note of the legislation?

​ Which legislation is relevant for bats and roosts?

  • In England and Wales, the relevant legislation is the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended); the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000; the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC, 2006); and by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2017).
  • In Scotland, the key legislation that applies is the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
  • In Northern Ireland bats are listed under Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 and in the Republic of Ireland, under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Act 1976 and Schedule 1 of the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997.

Defences include:

  1. Tending/caring for a bat solely for the purpose of restoring it to health and subsequent release
  2. Mercy killing where there is no reasonable hope of recovery (provided that person did not cause the injury in the first place - in which case the illegal act has already taken place).

Penalties on conviction – people committing bat crimes can face six months imprisonment and/or unlimited fines. Additionally any profits made as a consequence of not following lawful process can be confiscated and items used to commit the offences such as vehicles, plant or machinery can be forfeited.