30th October 2019
BCT has become concerned at reports of potential roost features (PRFs) in trees being blocked in advance of non-forestry operations to remove trees. This could have an adverse impact on bats.
We have therefore provided a position statement in relation to this.
In summary our primary concerns are that:
• Adequate surveys following published guidance should be carried out to look for bats before any PRFs are blocked.
• If bats are prevented from entering or exiting a roost without a licence or if bats are killed by being entombed this would be unlawful and could be a criminal offence.
• It is highly likely that a significant proportion of PRFs would be missed or inaccessible.
• Pre-emptive blocking of PRFs when carried out significantly in advance of operations is poor practice and, on a case-by-case basis, should be scrutinised for the appropriateness of the approach.
The importance of records
It is important that known roosts are recorded, even where their nature may be more transient as in some of the tree roosts referred to in the position statement. Records of roosts should be provided to the local bat group and/or local biological records centre so relevant information is available through data searches ahead of any planned works. By ensuring roosts are recorded in this way it removes the possibility that, should they be removed, it is far less likely for those responsible for the work to claim lack of intent or recklessness.
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