12th May 2023

Aberdare man fined for carrying out renovation work which impacted large bat roost

Hugh Clark

A man has been fined for carrying out renovation work in Aberdare. The building work, not in accordance with strict conditions provided by Natural Resources Wales within a European Protected Species Licence, will have impacted a large bat roost at the property.

The defendant appeared before Merthyr Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to breaching the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended).

The building contained a number of bat species confirmed within an ecological survey commissioned to review the site. These include soprano pipistrelle, lesser horseshoe bat, brown long-eared bat and common pipistrelle. These are a priority species in the UK and Europe and are protected by both UK and European Wildlife law. The building in question is a significant site which is considered of conservation value on a local level.

In April 2020 the defendant received the European Protected Species Licence from Natural Resources Wales however a number of its conditions were not complied with. This would have been severely detrimental to the bat population present on site. After pleading guilty in court, the Magistrates ordered the defendant to pay £6,362.20 in fines and costs.

PC Mark Powell on secondment with Natural Resources Wales Industry Regulation team said:

“Officers from Natural Resources Wales are successfully working with police forces across Wales, and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to investigate and prosecute those responsible for committing wildlife and rural crime offences.

“This site has significant conservational importance and there is still much work to be completed there. I firmly believe that the defendant will now work very closely with Natural Resources Wales and the Local Authority planners to ensure that the continued development is completed safely and in accordance with legislation designed to protect our already dwindling protected native species. We welcome the sentence which I believe will go a long way to deter others from committing future offences."

“The conservation of bats and other protected species must be ensured if future generations are to benefit from their continued existence. Bats are a very important indicator species that face ever increasing challenges. Hopefully this prosecution will serve as a reminder to developers and anyone carrying out work on buildings containing bats that they must follow the appropriate guidelines and ensure that any construction work is carefully completed within the law. Multi agency cooperation has never been better and together we will investigate and prosecute offenders.

I would like to thank the National Wildlife Crime Unit for their investigative advice and support, the Species Team at Natural Resources Wales and also the Bat Conservation Trust who carry out excellent work which helps to protect the species."