29th May 2009

Land owner fined for destruction of pipistrelle bat roosts

The owner of a piece of land in Quorn, Leicestershire, was convicted of destruction of two pipistrelle bat roosts located under boarding on a small bungalow at Loughborough magistrates court on 18th May 2009.

Mr Maltby, a 65 year old undertaker and builder, who co-owns the land and planned to sell it on to a developer once planning permission was obtained for development on it, had been told about the presence of the bat roosts in a bungalow on his site following completion of a bat survey in 2007. He then removed the boards thus destroying the bat roosts. During a subsequent bat survey commissioned in 2008, it became clear that the roosts had been removed illegally. Mr Maltby admitted destroying the roosts, pleading guilty to destruction of roosts under the Habitats Regulations.

In court, the chairman of the bench emphasized that as a businessman who has been in the building trade for some years; Mr Maltby was aware of the implications of bats being present on his property and was fined £1500 and ordered to pay costs of £70. Crimes against bats and their roosts can have a huge impact on local bat populations. It was likely that these were maternity roosts of pipistrelles, where mothers raise their young in the summer months. Loss of maternity roosts is particularly problematic for bats as it can mean that mothers have nowhere to raise their young of the year.

Neil Hughes, investigating officer for the case from Leicestershire police, said: "Initially the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge, claiming that the roost was not a permanent one and the bats had already left before he removed the boarding. This argument was not a convincing one however, as bat roosts are protected under the law whether the bats are present or not."

Mr Maltby subsequently changed his plea to guilty.