3rd July 2017

Bat Conservation Trust are aware of a private members bill (Bat Habitats Regulation Bill) sponsored by Lord Cormack that will have its first reading in the House of Commons on 3 July 2017. We believe that this bill is impractical and would be disastrous for bat populations.

The Bill proposes to amend the legislation to remove the protection given to bats where bats are present in places of worship. 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 closely with church and cultural heritage partners to find sustainable solutions that address the concerns of people using places of worship, whilst ensuring that bat populations are not damaged. We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery fund approved stage one funding for the Bats in Churches partnership project in Spring, to address just these issues (see http://www.batsandchurches.org.uk/latest-developments/).

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 and the Bern Convention 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 legislation 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 legislation 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 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 comms@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

Previous BCT news items on this private members bill, which has been presented by Christopher Chope MP and Lord Cormack on a number of occasions in the past 4 years but is not supported by the government.





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