31st July 2015

On Wednesday 29th July 2015 Mr Stephen Donald Taylor B26/05/60 of Berrow Green Road, Martley, Worcestershire, appeared before Redditch Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to unlawfully destroying the resting place of European Protected Species (a bat roost). The facts of the case were that in 2014 Mr Taylor purchased a property with a view to improving it and then using it as his place of residence. To support his planning application a bat survey was undertaken by a consultant ecologist which identified roosts by solitary common and soprano pipistrelles. The report referred to the need to obtain a licence from Natural England before undertaking work that would impact on the roosts. Despite the advice contained in the report Mr Taylor during the Autumn of 2014 stripped the roof of the house, and work that destroyed the roosts. In his defence it was said that Mr Taylor was confused about the licensing process and had unsuccessfully sought advice from a number of sources as to whether he could lawfully strip the roof. The court was also told that since being reported for the offence Mr Taylor had provided mitigation far beyond what might have required as a condition of any licence. There was general acceptance that the destroyed roosts had not been used either as a maternity nor a hibernation roost and that the offence had in fact had minimal ecological impact. The magistrates in sentencing Mr Taylor said that they accepted that Mr Taylor may have been confused about the licensing requirements but nevertheless the onus was on him to do things properly. Mr Taylor was fined £2300 with other further costs totalling £270. In imposing sentence the magistrates made the point that the fine was initially set at £3500 but had been reduced in order to take account of Mr Taylors guilty plea entered at the first opportunity. As ever the Bat Conservation Trust regret that prosecutions are needed, in particular in relation to this case because a licence would have been issued, we feel without difficulty. We are however grateful to both West Mercia Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their effectiveness in dealing with this matter.

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