The Bat Earned Recognition (ER) Pilot Project is a partnership project between Natural England (NE), the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). The project will implement a scheme of professional accreditation for applicants for bat mitigation licences. The aims of the scheme are to (1) streamline licensing, (2) raise and maintain professional standards in bat mitigation work and (3) improve outcomes for bats.

BAT EARNED RECOGNITION PILOT PROJECT: UPDATE AND CALL TO REGISTER INTEREST IS NOW OPEN

The ER Pilot is currently in the process of onboarding professional Assessors. The Assessors will play a critical role in ensuring the success of the ER Pilot by undertaking the assessment of the competence of candidates for accreditation.

Registration of Interest

The partners are now thrilled to be able to invite ecologists to register their interest in accreditation under the ER Pilot. Ecologists will be able to register their interest via the ‘Registration Form’ which is available from the CIEEM ER Project page.

We will be inviting up to 100 ecologists to participate in the assessment and accreditation process. In order to robustly test the pilot, the partners endeavour to invite a wide range of candidates (e.g. a range of geographical areas; different stages of career; Earned Recognition Accreditation Level being applied for). Therefore, regrettably, if we receive more than 100 Registration Forms from candidates who meet the criteria, we will be unable to invite all to undertake Accreditation Assessment. Please note that a current Level 2 Class Survey Licence (or higher) is a pre-requisite of the Pilot.

Ecologist registration will be open from 5th July 2021 to 15th August 2021. If we receive more than 100 Registration Forms from candidates who meet the criteria, we reserve the right to close registration before this date. We therefore encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity.

We will aim to notify all candidates who have submitted a Registration Form by 31st August 2021.

Participation in the Accreditation Assessment Process

If invited to participate in the accreditation assessment process, the first stage consists of a set of Multiple Choice Questions, reflecting the ER Competency Framework (see below). The MCQs will act as a gateway to participating in the following stages, which includes submission of a portfolio of career evidence, a series of desk-based Online Scenario Tests (OST) and finally a Professional Interview designed to test applicants’ competence against the requirements for one of the three Accreditation Levels. The Accreditation Levels and ER Competency Profiles and a sample row from the Framework may be viewed below.

Candidates will be required to pass all stages of the accreditation process.

WHY TAKE PART IN THE ER PILOT?

Applicants who are selected for the ER Pilot and who successfully complete the accreditation process will be registered under a special Class Licence and will be able to submit applications through the new streamlined licensing process for the duration of the pilot. The pilot is intended to go live from December 2021 through to August 2022 (and potentially beyond).

The concept is broadly similar to the Bat Mitigation Class Licence (BMCL – formerly BLICL) but ecologists with ER accreditation will able to use their class licence for work on a much wider range of species and roost types of bats (dependent on their level of accreditation).

Some key benefits of taking part in the pilot and passing accreditation are:

  • A fast turnaround on most licensing decisions throughout the pilot period;
  • Your bat mitigation licensing competence will be recognised and accredited by Natural England;
  • You will be helping to test the ER concept and systems to ensure they work for you; and
  • You will have the opportunity to provide detailed feedback on the scheme and shape its future development, ensuring it is fit for purpose, and meets the scheme’s three primary aims.

The current consultation Q&A document, along with other ER Pilot background content, can be found below.

The Privacy Notice relating to the Earned Recognition Pilot can be found below.

Queries

If you have any queries regarding the ER Pilot, please do contact us using EarnedRecognition.Bat@naturalengland.org.uk

Background - Why Bats?

Applications for licences involving bats and bat roosts are by far the highest proportion of mitigation licence applications received by Natural England and numbers are increasing year on year. The vast majority are lower risk situations but they still need to be licensed which requires time, effort and cost on the part of the developer, the consultant and Natural England. This reduces the resources available for monitoring, enforcement and drawing together the evidence base for the effectiveness of mitigation. Natural England’s resources to put into licensing are stretched and a more streamlined approach would have benefits for everyone.

We believe that an accreditation system would help to improve standards of bat mitigation and lead to better outcomes for bat conservation.

Earned Recognition

Earned Recognition works on the basis of assessing and accrediting a consultant’s competence in undertaking survey work and designing effective mitigation so that, by using an accredited consultant, developers can experience a more streamlined licensing process for their scheme or project.

The competency requirements for consultants are being defined on the basis of relevant selected elements of CIEEM’s Competency Framework (but a more detailed version with a bats emphasis) with the indicators of competence mapped across to BCT’s Professional Training Standards. There will be different competency requirements based on the level of accreditation applied for which, in turn, relates to the degree of risk to bats and bat roosts from the projects that the accredited consultant will be able to work on. Quite simply, consultants who work on projects that involve higher risks to bats will require a higher level of accreditation that involves demonstrating a higher level of competence.

The number of bat species in the UK, together with the variation in their geographical distribution makes this quite a complex system to design, so we have produced some key documents:

Consultation

Natural England undertook a stakeholder consultation exercise earlier in the project lifecycle but the project partners wanted to undertake a further consultation on the detail of the project, prior to running a pilot.

A detailed consultation for ecologists involved in mitigation licensing was launched on 17th November 2020 and closed on 5th January 2021. The results of the consultation are reported here.

The project partners delivered a webinar for ecologists about the proposed scheme and the forthcoming pilot on 19th November from 13.00-14.00. A recording of the webinar can be found here.

Many questions were submitted before and during the webinar and in the following months. In April 2021 we updated our Q & A document and this version can be found here.

A less detailed consultation for other stakeholder groups, including local authority planners, local authority ecologists, developers, architects, planning consultants, builders and NGOs was also launched on 17th November 2020 but closed on 31st January 2021. The results of this consultation are reported here.

General Contact Details and Privacy Notice

General queries regarding the project should be directed to:

Jan Collins, Head of Biodiversity, BCT: jcollins@bats.org.uk

Sally Hayns, CEO, CIEEM: sallyhayns@cieem.net

NE: EarnedRecognition.Bat@naturalengland.org.uk

The relevant Privacy Notice can be found below: