7th May 2019

Cumbria prosecution for destruction of a bat roost

(c) Hugh Clark

On Tuesday 30th May a person who undertook the development of Pembroke Farm, Brougham, Cumbria appeared before Carlisle Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to one charge of damaging or destroying a bat roost. He was fined £750, ordered to pay £85 costs and a £75 victim surcharge.

Planning permission was granted to allow for the renovation of the farmhouse at this address along with converting some outbuildings to residential use. The district council, as part of that process asked for a bat survey, which when undertaken, revealed a number of small roosts in some of the outbuildings used by common and soprano pipistrelle, brown long eared and myotis bats. The bat survey report was clear in stating that a licence would be required to destroy any roosts. Despite this, earlier this year, Cumbria Police were alerted to the fact that one of the outbuildings had been demolished. The building in question had been identified as hosting a roost used by two soprano pipistrelle bats. A police investigation revealed that the destruction of the roost could not be viewed as a genuine accident and a prosecution was authorised.

Our thanks go to both Cumbria Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for investigating and prosecuting this matter. BCT provided a conservation impact statement which was read to the court. The court was also made aware of the recent judgement relating to a case last month where a developer in London was fined £18,000 for destroying a roost of similar size. In view of this a fine of £750, although by no means, one of the smallest to be imposed, must be seen as disappointing. But neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service can be criticised for this. The court were provided with the information needed to make informed decisions. This outcome, instead, makes the case for a wildlife crime sentencing guideline to be produced by the Sentencing Council. Something that BCT as a partner of Wildlife and Countryside Link have, for some time, been pressing for.

BCT were not present at court. The matter seems not to have been reported locally. The identity of the offender is not known to us.

Further information about Bat Crime Investigations Project is available HERE.

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