16th February 2016
Further to our previous post regarding the second reading of the Bat Habitats Regulation Bill (read the article HERE). The Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 5th of February 2016 and at the end of the debate, Mr Christopher Chope MP withdrew the bill.
The Bat Habitats Regulation Bill, originally proposed by Mr Christopher Chope MP in January 2015, sought to reduce the protection of bats in places of worship (Clause 2). The bill was impractical and would have been highly detrimental for bat populations. 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 would certainly harm wildlife and would not be a positive way forward for churches or other places of worship either. The requirements for survey and mitigation/compensation measures suggested under clause 1 are already in place under the Habitats Regulations. Local planning authorities already have a duty to take European protected species into account when considering developments.
During the debate, Mr Chope stated that "we are a long way short of finding a solution to this intractable problem that is causing an enormous amount of concern to churches". The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) acknowledges the serious problems that some churches experience with bats. However we do not believe that limiting the protection of bats in churches provides a productive way forward; in fact, as stated previously, we believe it is an impractical and could pose serious risks to bat conservation. BCT has seen first-hand how practical solutions for churches can be achieved through targeted action. There are, indeed, many churches which already co-exist with bats without a problem and are, inclusively, proud to help protect them.
George Eustice MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, defended the current approach by giving the specific example of St Hilda's Church in Yorkshire; work in this church "led to the impact of bats being removed altogether, while ensuring that the bats were still able to roost in the roof of the building". He even added that "this is an excellent example of peaceful co-existence between bats and parishioners in churches". You can read the full transcript of the debate HERE.
Even though the bill was withdrawn in the House of Commons, it still hasn't had its second reading in the House of Lords. The date of this second reading has not been announced yet but we will keep you posted with developments as they happen. You can see details of the Bill on the House of Lords HERE (you can sign up for alerts here too).
Further information - Bats and Churches
Read our previous news about this:
Bat Habitats Regulation Bill (England and Wales) - http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/260/bat_habitats_regulation_bill_england_and_wales
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only national organisation solely devoted to the conservation of bats and their habitats in the UK. Its network of 100 local bat groups and more than 1,000 bat workers survey roosts and hibernation sites, and work with householders, builders, farmers and foresters to protect bats. www.bats.org.uk
All British bats are protected under British law, because of severe declines in bat numbers during the twentieth century. Loss of roosting habitat to development and construction, loss of foraging habitat as farming practice has changed (using pesticide and losing meadows and hedgerows) and loss of hedgerows, waterways and commuting routes linking the two all contributed to the declines in bat populations.
Because of widespread population declines and continued vulnerability, all British bat species are European protected species and afforded a high level of protection under both the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Deliberately capturing, disturbing, injuring and killing bats is prohibited, as is damaging or destroying their breeding sites and roosts.
The Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228 is for anyone who needs help with bats If you find a grounded or injured bat, believes bats to be at risk or think you may have bats or want to let us know about a bat roost site please call the Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228
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