20th December 2016

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have recently published a report entitled 'Bats and Licensing: A report on the success of maternity roost compensation measures' (available HERE)

The report describes a study of 28 SNH licences that were issued between 2011 and 2014 involving maternity roosts that were destroyed during development projects. The compensatory roosts provided were monitored for bat use and it was found that 18% of those were being used by a maternity colony of the target species and 61% were not being used by any bats.

These figures obviously raise concerns about the efficacy of bat roost compensatory measures and emphasise the need for more research in this area to increase success rates. Such research is essential and aligns with the plans for improved implementation now that the REFIT process has concluded that the Habitats Directive is fit for purpose.

Developments projects can undoubtedly have detrimental impacts on bat populations and we work with many different partners to improve the outcomes for bats. It should be acknowledged that many companies do want to do the right thing but need to have the correct information and support in doing so. The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) are holding a Bat Mitigation Case study Forum on the 24th of January 2017. The key aim is to promote the importance of monitoring in ensuring success in mitigation schemes by sharing best practice and lessons learnt. You can find out more about the forum HERE

BCT has also recently received funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for our Bearing Witness for Wildlife Mitigation Project. This project will involve visiting a cross-section of sites in England and Wales during the summers of 2017 and 2018 to ground truth whether mitigation/compensation was:

(a) implemented as per the original design; and

(b) successful in attracting back the same species of bat in the same numbers and for the same purpose (e.g. maternity roosting).

We will be focusing on the species that arise most frequently in licensing cases (common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and brown long-eared bat) and licences that expired in the period 2006-2014 so that we are monitoring uptake by bats in cases more than 2 years old and up to over 10 years old. All will fall within the period that English Nature's Bat Mitigation Guidelines have been available.

We are interested in hearing from anybody who is able to help us find sites that meet the above criteria and where the owners/occupiers are likely to be willing to grant access for bat monitoring purposes. Importantly, we need sites that have apparently not worked with respect to implementation and success as well as your successful ones. Please contact Jan Collins, Head of Biodiversity at jcollins@bats.org.uk.