31st July 2012

A man has been found guilty of the destruction of a lesser horseshoe bat roost near Bude in Cornwall. Christopher J. Congdon knowingly destroyed the bat roost, which was home to one of Britain's rarest mammals, when he was converting a barn on his property. Having been advised that rare bats were present and a licence would be required, Mr Congdon destroyed evidence of the bats' presence and then had works carried out on the barn which destroyed the roost. Mr Congdon was found guilty at a hearing in Bodmin Magistrates' Court on Friday 27th July 2012 and was fined £2500 and £660 costs.

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Investigations Officer Pete Charleston explains:

"Bats and their roost are protected by law whether the bats are present in the roost or not, this legislation helps protect our native bat populations which suffered severe declines throughout the twentieth century. Destroying a roost is a serious offence; it harms bats and puts bat populations at risk. "

BCT have supported Devon and Cornwall Police and the Crown Prosecution Service throughout the investigation and praise the work of the CPS and the police for their work particularly PC Richard Martin who led the investigation. BCT also recognise that this case could not have been bought without the assistance of ecologists who had conducted surveys of the premises prior to work being carried out.

In a separate case a man in Cumbria has pleaded guilty to destroying a bat roost and is awaiting sentencing.

If properly planned and licensed works that may affect bats or their roosts can take place with minimal impact and be cost effective. Bat Conservation Trust advise that if ecological surveys are carried out, works planned at the right time off year and mitigation put in place for the loss of any roost, then activities such as barn conversions can take place without putting bat populations at risk. For free information and advice about bats call the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228.

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