Bat Surveys

Brown Long-eared Bat, Leicestershire

EMEC Ecology have carried out projects relating to bats throughout England including all the counties in the East Midlands. Projects range from bat surveys of proposed barn conversions up to bat surveys of large scale development schemes. Recent projects requiring bat surveys have been undertaken within Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire.

There are currently 17 resident species of bat in the UK. All bat species recieve protection under UK and European legislation, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended). Together, this legislation makes it illegal to:

  • Intentionally or deliberately take, kill or injure a bat
  • Damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts
  • Deliberately disturb bats

A bat roost is defined in the legislation as "any structure or place which a bat uses for shelter or protection". Roosts are protected whether or not bats are present at the time. If a development activity is likely to result in the disturbance or killing of a bat, damage to its habitat or any of the other activities listed above, then a licence will usually be required from Natural England.

How to Book a Bat Survey

Brown Long-eared Bat - Night Vision Camera

EMEC Ecology work with many different clients from large public and private sector projects to small residential development sites including small re-roofing and extension projects. Each survey will therefore be specific to a site and the costs will vary accordingly. EMEC Ecology will be happy to provide a quotation for a bat survey that will be both efficient and cost effective to the site specifics. Reports are produced as soon as possible however should you have a specific date for submission with a planning application we will do our utmost to accommodate this.

If you require a quotation for a bat survey please send an email to us at including any site plans that you have available (or details and photographs of the site if applicable) with details of the proposed development plans of the site, along with your name and contact details. Should you wish to contact us at the office please call 0115 9644828.

Details are provided below on what a bat survey can involve. This information is also available as a PDf document. Bat Survey - Information Sheet.

Survey Methodology

Daytime Bat Surveys

Old Barn - Requiring Bat Survey

Bat surveys begin with an initial site assessment. This involves a daytime survey of the building(s) / tree(s) to be affected. The bat survey involves looking for signs of bats such as droppings, feeding remains, scratch marks, urine stains, and actual sightings, as well as potential access points and roost sites such as holes, cracks and crevices.

Should evidence of bats be found or areas suited to roosting bats identified it may be necessary to complete further evening emergence and / or dawn swarming surveys. These bat activity surveys allow for identification of roost entrance / exit points, number of bats present and species of bat using a roost (further details are provided below).

Although the initial daytime assessment can be completed at any time of year, evening and dawn surveys are constrained by the main bat activity season which runs from May to September inclusive. During the winter months bat activity is reduced and during long periods of cold weather bats hibernate and so bat activity surveys at this time of year are ineffective. The best time to complete evening surveys is during the period May- late July / August whilst bats congregate in large maternity colonies.

Evening Emergence Bat Surveys

Evening emergence surveys involve monitoring a building or tree at dusk using bat detectors, night vision scope and camcorder equipment with infrared light sources. Surveyors monitor the buildings and / or trees and record if bats use any specific features, as identified during the daytime survey as exit points. The number of bats exiting a building / tree will allow a population estimate to be made. Audio clues and sonograms recorded on bat detectors allow identification of species of bat present.

Dawn Swarming Bat Surveys

Dawn swarming surveys involve monitoring a site during dawn hours as bats return to roost. This survey method can be more cost effective for larger sites as it allows the surveyor to be mobile, whereas during emergence surveys a surveyor is static and focused on a single area. This is because bats swarm around a roost entrance prior to entering, so a surveyor can easily pick up on possible roost sites as they walk around a site. However on larger sites a combination of both dawn and dusk survey methodologies would be advised.

Transect and Fixed Point Bat Surveys

Anabat Bat Detector in Weatherproof Box for Fixed Point Bat Surveys

Finally, bat surveys can be used to determine whether or not changes in landscapes, such as hedgerow removal, construction of a wind turbine, installation of new lighting (e.g. road lighting) or an entire change of land use, will affect bats. Night time activity surveys can be completed throughout the night to determine bat activity and transit / foraging routes within a site. Surveyors walk transects around a site and record bat activity. Bat detectors can be installed at specific locations within a site and set to record all bat activity over a series of nights (the photograph to the right shows an Anabat Bat detector in weatherproof box). These surveys can be useful for identifying the ideal location to site a wind turbine or to help plan a lighting scheme which is sympathetic to bats for a new road.

Wind Turbine Projects

Wind turbine and wind farm applications demand a particular set of roost assessments, transect surveys and fixed point monitoring at height using bat detectors set at heights of up to 20m. For more information on bat survey techniques for wind turbine works, please see our wind energy projects page.

Mitigation Recommendations

For a licence to be granted, detailed mitigation would need to be designed to reduce the chances of harming bats during development works. As part of EMEC Ecology's solution strategies the following methods are often employed:

Timing of Works

Works are scheduled for when bats are least likely to be present on a site. Typically the two main windows are autumn and spring to avoid the maternity and hibernation period when bats are most vulnerable. Site works are usually supervised by an ecologist during the initial phases to ensure that no bats are harmed in the unlikely event that they are present.

Provision for Roosting

In new buildings or redevelopments it will be essential to provide bats with suitable roosting opportunities. For simple compensation a series of bat boxes can be used on a site. For larger populations of bats, purpose built bat features and lofts may need to be incorporated into the development or existing roost sites retained.

Monitoring Visits

Upon completion of the development works affecting bats, monitoring is undertaken to establish whether the works have impacted upon the population. This can be completed by EMEC Ecology and is a requirement of a European Protected Species licence.

Applying for a license

Should a European Protected Species (EPS) license be required EMEC Ecology can apply for this license on your behalf. The EPS licence application requires the production of a method statement, completion of an EPS application form and the completion of a reasoned statement in support of the application. The method statement will require site specific mitigation. For development sites where there are challenging situations, EMEC Ecology has experienced staff in finding the appropriate solutions.

Bat Surveys Completed by EMEC Ecology

Recent projects completed by EMEC Ecology have included:

Callow Park, near Wirksworth in Derbyshire

EMEC Ecology recently completed works on the long running re-roofing programme at Callow Park School, near Wirksworth in Derbyshire. EMEC Ecology completed a series of surveys and identified a number of small roosts for brown long-eared and pipistrelle bats. A mitigation strategy was devised which involved creation of bat tiles in the roof structures to allow bats access into the roof voids once works had been completed. Immediate roof strip works were completed under the supervision of a licenced bat worker who gave advice on the best locations for new mitigation features.

Epperstone Manor, near Southwell, Nottinghamshire

EMEC Ecology was commissioned to undertake a bat survey of Epperstone Manor and its associated outbuildings in Nottinghamshire. The bat survey involved a daytime inspection for evidence of roosting bats and evening emergence surveys. The image above is a brown long-eared bat caught on a camcorder with night vision and infra-red light sources. Night vision camcorders are often used during bat emergence surveys. A large bat roost was identified at this site and a European Protected Species licence from Natural England was obtained by EMEC Ecology on behalf of our client. The licence outlined a schedule of works and put in place a mitigation and compensation strategy which involved timing works to prevent disturbance and providing suitable roosting sites within the redeveloped buildings. This included the design and installation of a purpose built bat loft and a heated bat roost.

Mansfield Council Houses, Mansfield in Nottinghamshire

Bat Box Fitted to the Exterior of a Building, Mansfield

During 2009 EMEC Ecology surveyed in excess of 100 residential households under ownership of Mansfield District Council in Nottinghamshire. The majority of the buildings surveyed were due to be demolished; however a few of the houses were to be retained and refurbished. The surveys of the houses to be refurbished were to determine if works to improve external insulation would impact upon bats. Surveys involved numerous daytime inspections as well as several evening emergence and dawn swarming surveys. Although bat activity was generally limited, a small pipistrelle roost was found within one of the buildings. Suitable mitigation was put in place and the site demolition and re-development works were completed on time.

Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire

Newstead Abbey - Bat Survey

EMEC Ecology is currently involved in the works to improve fire safety systems at Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire. The works will involve installation of new fire alarm systems within the building's numerous loft spaces and interior fire partitioning. A detailed survey was completed and several lofts identified as supporting roosts for brown long-eared and pipistrelle bats as well as myotis species. Works are to be completed under a method statement, as an EPS licence from Natural England is not considered applicable, as works will be supervised by a licenced bat worker and will be undertaken at a time of year which will not disturb, or directly or indirectly impact on bats.

Belper Wind Turbine in Derbyshire

Domestic Wind Turbine - Derbyshire

In July 2008, EMEC Ecology carried out a protected species survey of a pasture close to woodland, where a domestic wind turbine was proposed. The surveys were for bats, badgers and breeding birds, with bats proving to be the major consideration. During the evening and night-time bat surveys, numerous common pipistrelle bats were recorded foraging along the woodland edge. This 'feeding corridor' occurred up to 6m from the woodland edge and the bats were recorded flying at heights between 3m-5m above the pasture, close to the overhanging trees. At peak times bat passes in the feeding corridors were recorded every 20 seconds or so and were attributed to 6-8 individual bats. EMEC Ecology advised that the turbine at 15m high with a 5m diameter blade would have a minimal impact on the bat feeding corridors as long as it was situated out in the open field at a sufficiently safe distance from the feeding corridor. The wind turbine has since been built and monitoring of bat activity at the site is proposed for the 2010 season.

Bat Surveys of Nine Trees on the South Bank of the River Trent in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

Supervision of Works Following Bat Survey of Trees

In July 2005 EMEC Ecology carried out bat emergence surveys and dawn swarming surveys of nine trees close to the south bank of the River Trent in West Bridgford. The trees had been selected for felling in connection with proposed flood alleviation works.

Two trees were found to contain small roosts of common pipistrelle bats. Instead of opting for felling these two trees with bat roosts under the terms of a DEFRA licence (licences are now issued by Natural England) it was decided to retain them and enhance the area for bats by fitting bat boxes onto nearby trees.

Bat Box Installed on a Tree in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

Three of the other trees were found to contain features that potentially could be used by bats and therefore it was recommended that their felling should take place only after a further inspection, and then under supervision by qualified and licenced bat surveyors. The fixing of bat boxes and supervised felling of trees took place in February 2006.

It is not always possible to list the most recent of our projects as these may still be going through the planning process, in progress, or confidential. However the above projects are presented as examples of EMEC Ecology’s’ expertise in this area.

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