Guide Planning and Biodiversity

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3. Bat and Bird Surveys

Bats and nesting birds are the types of wildlife most likely to be affected by development or demolition of existing buildings or removal of trees with suitable features. All species of bats are legally protected against disturbance, direct harm and modification and destruction of their resting sites (whether present or not). House martins, swallows, swifts, sparrows, starlings, and barn owls will typically nest in or on buildings. The birds, their eggs and young are all legally protected, as are their nests whilst they are in use.

A bat survey must be conducted by an experienced and licensed bat ecologist. Bat surveys require an appropriate level of expertise and should be undertaken in accordance with  Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines 4th Edition. CIEEM provide more information on what to expect from a bat survey.

Householder/building applications where bats/birds are the only consideration should be submitted with a Householder/Buildings Checklist.

In accordance with the East Devon Validation Checklist a survey/report should be proportionate. Therefore, if no evidence of bat use is found or there is no potential for bat use, a letter report detailing the results of a preliminary daytime survey for bats and birds from a qualified bat consultant would be sufficient. The letter report should include brief details regarding the survey, surveyor (including licence number), any limitations, and photographs to support any statements made.

Bat surveys are required where the development could result in an offence, such as the disturbance of bats or destruction of their resting sites and/or where bats are likely to be present. This is based on roosting potential, proximity to favourable habitat such as hedgerows, open countryside, rivers, and trees and known distribution of bat records.

For further information please refer to the table below, East Devon Validation Checklist, Wildlife Checklist, and .GOV.

Typical development type and/or reason for a bat survey

Bat survey required

Where known or suspected bat roost exists Yes
All barn conversions and works to agricultural buildings Yes
Demolition of buildings, roof replacements, works to a roof/roof space e.g., loft conversion (unless converted), roof raising, and extensions joining into pitched roofs Yes
Removal of weather boarding or hanging tiles Yes
Works to a quarry or built structures such as bridges, viaducts, aqueducts, tunnels, mines, kilns, ice houses, military fortifications, air raid shelters, cellars and similar underground ducts and structures Yes
Will illuminate / cause light spill onto a building, mature tree, woodland, or a known bat roost Yes
Felling of trees or pruning of large branches that have holes or splits Yes

If you come across bats or other protected wildlife when undertaking building works including demolition you must stop work immediately and contact your local bat specialist/wildlife specialist for advice.