15th January 2015

We are aware of a private members bill (Bat Habitats Regulation Bill) sponsored by Mr Christopher Chope MP that will have its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 16th January 2015. We believe that this bill is impractical and would be disastrous for bat populations.

Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) recognises the problems that some churches experience with bats. We are committed to finding solutions for bats and churches issues that support people, bats and our cultural heritage. We are working with a number of different partners to find sustainable solutions that address the concerns people using places of worship, whilst ensuring that bat populations are not damaged.

BCT believes that in many instances, practical solutions for churches lie in improving access to specialist support services and that through targeted support and advice many churches could be helped to coexist with bat populations. Indeed many churches already coexist with bats without problem, or are even proud to help nature conservation.

Bats are protected by the Habitats Directive because of the severe declines they have experienced in the past through habitat loss, agricultural intensification, roost destruction, pesticides and deliberate killing. Bats are currently one of the wildlife groups that appear to be responding to the protection afforded by the Habitats Directive and the sustained effort that government, the public and conservationists have made to conserve them. To enable bat populations to continue to recover, we need the help of churches. The Habitats Directive provides an essential mechanism for safeguarding vulnerable species and habitats whilst ensuring social and economic needs are met. Diluting or requesting exemptions to this legislation will certainly harm wildlife and will not be a positive way forward for churches either.

Through our work we have seen successes; when churches are given the right help and support and churches and conservationists work together in partnership issues can be resolved and even large bat roosts can be accommodated. We continue to work with churches, communities and volunteers to provide help, and develop guidance and solutions through a full scale long-term Bat, Churches and Communities programme to ensure all churches receive the help they need.

If you require further information please contact Joe Nunez on: 020 7820 7168 OR jnunez-mino@bats.org.uk

Further information available on line:

Bats and Churches project: http://www.batsandchurches.org.uk

Bats and Churches: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_churches.html

Case studies: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/church_case_studies.html