If during the bat survey bat roosts are discovered, a European Protected Species derogation licence will be required to fell any trees or demolish structures with bat roosts present. All 17 breeding and 1 non-breeding species of bat that occur in the UK have suffered population declines over the past 100 years. Due to these declines all bats and their roosts are protected by law under the following:-
1981 UK Wildlife and Countryside Act (as amended)
As ‘European Protected Species’, further protection is afforded to all UK bat species under the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) referred to as the Habitat Regulations.
Amendments to the Habitats Regulations are implemented by the following for each country:-
Scotland - The Conservation (Natural Habitat, &c.) Amendment (No.2) (Scotland) Regulations 2007
Taken together, the combined legislation means a criminal offence will be committed if any of the following occurs:-
In Scotland, it is an offence deliberately or recklessly;
capture, injure or kill a bat;
harass a bat;
disturb a bat while it is occupying a structure or place used for shelter or protection;
disturb a bat while it is rearing or otherwise caring for its young;
obstruct access to a breeding site or resting place, or otherwise deny a bat use of the breeding site or resting place;
disturb a bat in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to significantly affect the local distribution or abundance of the species to which it belongs;
disturb a bat in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to impair its ability to survive, breed or reproduce, or rear or otherwise care for its young;
disturb a bat while it is migrating or hibernating
It is an offence of strict liability to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of a bat. (Refer to the legislation for precise wording - the above is a summary only.)
Surveys for bats can be undertaken throughout the year but, it if a licence is likely to be required then activity surveys should be undertaken during the active period (May-August). 3 surveys are usually required and the bat species, numbers and location of roost access points need to be established to submit an application for a licence to disturb or destroy any bat roost identified.
Licences will normally be required for disturbance from works within 30m and physical impacts (damage or blocking) of known roost features. The licence will normally be issued following the survey and report when supported by a Species Protection Plan. The SPP should describe how the bats will be protected during the works and outline any compensation or mitigation required. This could for example include the provision of a bat box or incorporation of bat roost features in any new structure. A SNH licensed bat worker should be present to relocate any bats and sign off any licence issued.