1st April 2015

The Bat Habitats Regulation Bill, sponsored by Christopher Chope MP, has been dropped as there was no motion to carry it over to the next session of Parliament after the general election. The bill had part of its second reading in January.

Amongst other things, the bill sought to exclude places of worship from the legislation that protects bats (Habitats Regulations and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).

The presence of bats in churches is an issue which often polarises opinions. Bats are becoming increasingly reliant on man-made structures for their roosts as natural roosts and foraging sites have been lost and fragmented due to development. Many suitable buildings are being regularly converted for residential or commercial use, leaving bats, particularly in rural areas, with churches as the only roosting option. An estimated 60% of medieval churches are used by bats at some point in the year. In a minority of cases large maternity roosts present a challenge by causing damage to artefacts and annoyance to congregations.

There are many ways of managing the situation and positive case studies where church congregations have, with the right support, found practical solutions that mean that the negative impact of bats is minimised. More research is needed to reduce the impact of bats in churches without any negative impacts on the wellbeing and conservation of the bat populations.