23rd January 2024

Newport company fined for demolition of bat roost

Common pipistrelle. Photo by Hugh Clark.

Company fined £2605 for illegally destroying a building in Newport where common pipistrelles were roosting.

On January 9 2024, Director of Your Space Projects Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) at Newport Magistrates Court.

The destroyed building was The Ferns, a former social club in Lliswerry, Newport.

Common pipistrelle roost destroyed

Full ecological surveys were completed by an independent ecologist employed by the developer. These surveys showed that a common pipistrelle roost was present at The Ferns.

Common pipistrelles are a priority species in the UK and Europe. As such, they are protected by both UK and European Wildlife law.

The presence of the bats meant that the building could not be demolished without a European Protected Species License and appropriate mitigation in place.

Breakdown in communication

In court, Your Space Projects Limited argued that a breakdown in communication between the company and their sub-contractor resulted in the demolition taking place too early. Unfortunately, this prevented the onsite toolbox talks involving an ecologist present at the time of the demolition, to carefully monitor and ensure the safety of any more bats that may have been present. That process would have protected any bats still in situ.

Judge Toms stated that the negligent failure of the company resulted in the loss of a day roost. And she ordered that the company pay, after having credit for a guilty plea, fines and costs totalling £2605.

BCT, planning and wildlife crime

BCT works with partners, including those from justice and policing as well as development and construction, to help protect bat species. We do this because all 18 species of bat in the UK have suffered severe historic losses and four are at risk of extinction. It is to protect these vulnerable animals that legal protections are in place.

Even so, prosecution is a last resort, because prevention of harm is better for bats. It is also better for developers, the responsible majority of whom do follow existing guidance - which offers multiple ways development can continue whilst minimising harm to bats and avoiding costly court cases.

National Wildlife Crime Unit investigation

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 demolition of a confirmed bat roost without ecological onsite support and without the European Protected Species Licence will have impacted the species in the local area. Legislation is in place and is 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”.

Further information about wildlife crime