12th December 2014
The debate in the House of Commons yesterday on bats and churches (transcript available HERE) has sparked further discussion on this difficult issue. Here at Bat Conservation Trust we recognise the problems that some churches experience with bats, and have taken a very proactive approach to engaging with the church community and helping to find solutions to the issues that bats can cause in some churches. We are working with a number of different partners to find sustainable solutions that don't harm bats while simultaneously addressing the concerns of people using places of worship http://www.batsandchurches.org.uk. There are excellent examples in which working together has been very productive in overcoming particular issues: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/church_case_studies.html. The call by some individuals for blanket exclusions of bats from all churches and other places of worship ignores the unnecessary detrimental impact this would have on bats. Bats play an essential part in the natural world and are indicators of a healthy environment. Their future is directly linked to our quality of life and the quality of our environment.
The National Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) offers free advice on behalf of Natural England to anyone who encounters a bat, be it a house holder who suspects they have bats in their attic, through to someone who encounters a baby bat (pup) in distress. In 2013 the helpline answered more than 12,000 enquiries about bats, and arranged 1,514 free volunteer visits on behalf of Natural England for householders and churches. The majority of enquiries from churches to the Bat Helpline relate to advice on building works. In 2013 there were 414 calls to the helpline from churches resulting in 248 free Natural England site visits where guidance and support were offered.
Julia Hanmer, BCT Joint Chief Executive, states "We would encourage any church that has a concern about bats or a bat roost to call the National Bat Helpline. With the right support and by working in partnership with conservationists, churches can often find solutions to the challenges of living alongside bat colonies."
Many individuals and organisations have taken the same approach as BCT in calling for a balanced and reasoned response to this issue; for example, Christian conservation group A Rocha have recently produce guidance on this issue, which can be downloaded HERE
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