Bat Activity Surveys in Hampshire

Example: Private estate in Hampshire, summer 2020.

Our client wanted to convert three outbuildings into accommodation. To acquire Planning Permission, an ecological report for the site was needed. The area was known to provide habitat for many protected species including bats, so the building needed a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) to be carried out by a qualified ecologist. A PRA assesses how likely it would be for bats to use a building as either a daytime sleeping place for summer months, a place to give birth in May/June (maternity roost) or a winter hibernation roost.

In this particular case, the PRA showed that there were places in the building that bats might use during the summer months though it was unlikely the building could be used during winter. There were bat droppings scattered throughout the building, some of which were collected and sent to a lab for DNA testing to identify which species of bat were present, as well as features throughout the building that we know some bat species like to use.

A PRA identifies buildings as having either ‘high’, ‘moderate’, ‘low’ or ‘negligible’ bat roost potential. if a building has negligible potential, no further surveys are required and a report can be submitted by the ecologist to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to support the planning application. If the building is assessed to have high, moderate or low bat roost potential, further surveys are needed.

One outbuilding in this example was assessed to have moderate bat roost potential, the other two, to have low bat roost potential. Our ecologist therefore recommended that three night-time Bat Activity Surveys would be required.

Bat Activity Surveys require that buildings are monitored for approximately a two-hour period around either dawn or dusk. Ecologists watch for how bats use a building: access points, which spaces they prefer, which species of bat (of the eighteen in the UK) are using the building and for what purpose (maternity roost, daytime snoozing spot for males, an eating-area, etc) and their numbers. Our team of ecologists, use a combination of audio bat detectors, infra-red cameras, thermal imaging cameras and their own sharp eyes to count bats and record all relevant information.

In the example case in Hampshire, during the first survey, no bats were recorded leaving two of the outbuildings, three soprano pipistrelle bats were recorded leaving the gable end of the third building. In total we recorded 400+ bat passes during the first emergence survey, with a tree roost for common pipistrelle bats being confirmed in the woodland to the south east of the buildings. In the following two surveys (at least two weeks apart), we recorded four and two soprano pipistrelle roosting in the building. This data confirmed the building as a summertime day roost for this species only. A report was then provided for the client to submit to the LPA. Planning Permission was granted with conditions for the protection of the bats. The client needed to have an ecologist apply to Natural England (NE) for a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) on their behalf, to safeguard bats during the demolition and re-development of the building and to mitigate for habitat loss: provision would have to be made for soprano pipistrelle bats in the new building.

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