UK law protects the bat species because they have international importance. This guide highlights how to avoid harming bats and the process to get a bat licence.
BATS PROTECTION LAW: Chiroptera (scientific name for bats) are a European protected species. In fact, bats are mammals and the only mammal that flies (like a bird).
Laws protect all bat species and their breeding sites (roosts). You risk breaking the bats protection law if you:
In some isolated cases you might get a bat licence from Natural England. But, as a rule, they only issue bat licences for special reasons.
An example could be if there is no way to avoid disturbing them or damaging the bat's habitat. Certain wildlife licences may be available to those who want to survey bats or conserve them.
Note: Being found guilty of any bat offences has serious consequences. The result for offenders can be either (or both) of these punishments.
Certain activities are prone to harming or affecting bats. They include:
You must use practices that avoid harming the bats. As a rule there will be alternatives to damaging or blocking access to their habitats.
Note: You must use an expert to perform a bat survey. You can find a bat expert using either the Chartered Institute of Ecology or the Environment Management directory. The bat survey shows what type and how many there are. It will also show how the bats are using the building or area. Thus, you can plan to avoid harming the mammals.
There are some occasions where it is impossible to avoid harming bats or their habitats. In this case, you can apply for a mitigation licence from Natural England.
You may also need one of the Natural England bat licences for other prohibited activities. They include:
Some building construction can affect protected species. Ecological consultants can register to use a class licence. Doing so may avoid the need for an individual licence for certain low impact activities.
Contact the 'Bat Conservation Trust' helpline for general queries and emergencies if:
The Bat Conservation Trust
5th floor, Quadrant House
250 Kennington Lane
London SE11 5RD
Telephone: Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228 (charged at local call rate)
Open Monday to Friday: 9am - 5.30pm
(Excluding bank holiday periods).
The bat experts will give you advice. They may also send a Natural England bat roost volunteer to inspect your property. They offer this free service for small-scale building works if it does not need planning permission.
Bats Protection and Licence in the United Kingdom