Bat Conservation Trust is working with Natural England and CIEEM on the pilot for a new transformative approach to licensing mitigation work in England that impacts on bats. This approach is known as Earned Recognition.

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:

Next steps – a consultation

Natural England undertook a stakeholder consultation exercise earlier in the project lifecycle but the project partners now want to undertake a further consultation on the detail of the project, prior to running a pilot. More details of the proposed scheme can be found in this document. Please read it thoroughly, in conjunction with the documents above, and we suggest you also have copies to hand when you complete the consultation survey.

The consultation survey for ecologists involved in mitigation licensing can be accessed here. Please note that the survey will also provide an opportunity for you to register your interest in being involved in the pilot, if appropriate.

There is a separate survey for other stakeholder groups, including local authority planners, local authority ecologists, developers, architects, planning consultants, builders and NGOs, which can be accessed here.

Please note that the closing time/date for both surveys is midday on 5th January 2021. Any queries regarding the consultation 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 project partners delivered a webinar 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.

We will be posting a summary of the survey responses here in February 2021. We will also post further details of the pilot as they become available.

Please find a Privacy Notice relating to the Earned Recognition Project consultation and pilot here.