Protecting bats

The general decline in British bat populations is worrying, but the legal protection they are afforded can be a source of good news. Stringent fines (of up to £5,000 per bat killed with additional penalisation for any roost damage ) oblige property owners and developers to adapt to their presence.  Here are some cases where priorities were got right.

Earlier this year work on a multi-million pound development in Derby ground to a standstill while demolition men waited for the bats in a colony to wake up from hibernation. The developers announced they would incorporate bat boxes into the new shopping/office/apartment complex.

In 2008, restoration work on a Leicestershire church came to a halt when a Long-eared bat colony was found in the roof. While waiting for the breeding season to finish, villagers filmed the colony and a local school studied it.

A derelict cottage on the Gower was recently bought and restored, not to turn into a desirable holiday home, but for the benefit of its 600 Horseshoe bat residents, mainly Lesser, with a few Greater (of an estimated British population of only 20,000). The cottage appears innocuously normal from the outside, except that a few windows have been replaced by grills.

If you find bats roosting in your loft, contact the Bat Conservation Trust for advice.

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