Why are bats so protected?
Bats are of major ecological importance. They are warm blooded, suckle their young, and are the only true flying mammal. All 16 UK species of bat predate on night flying insects.
Bats need a variety of roosts for different times of year. Sadly, with the clearing of Britain’s woodlands, bat populations have suffered tremendous losses. Because of this, they have been forced to adapt to live in manmade structures.
How far does the law protect them?
Bats are considered to be of international importance and are protected by law.
It is an offence to:
- Intentionally or deliberately kill, injure or capture bats
- Deliberately disturb bats in any situation
- Damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts even if the roost is not occupied
- Possess or transport a bat or any part of a bat unless legally acquired
- Sell, barter or exchange bats or any part of a bat whether alive or dead
You are very lucky to have bats roosting in your property! Bats pose no health risk and are amongst the most beneficial animals on earth.
What can I do to help?
If you would like more information on what you can do to protect bats visit the Bat Conservation Trust for advice on the small steps you can take to make a big difference.
I suspect I have a bat roost in my property, how can I develop and stay within the law?
If you suspect bats in a property you wish to develop, it is essential you notify Natural England and allow them reasonable time to respond. This is the only way to ensure you are acting within the law. Failure to do so can result in prosecution.
What will Natural England do if I tell them about bats in my property?
Once notified, Natural England will arrange a licensed bat warden to carry out a bat survey on your property for a voluntary donation.
If evidence of bats is found then often the local authority, local nature conservation organisations and you, can work together to find a solution that all parties are happy with that will help mitigate the impact on the bats.
This may include imposing planning conditions like:
- using bat friendly building materials
- setting up bat boxes
- monitoring populations
- the applicant becoming legally responsible for protecting the bats on their property