Bats and their roosts are protected under UK and European Legislation. Under this legislation, bats are regarded as European Protected Species (EPS). It is an offence to deliberately or recklessly disturb a bat (including injuring, capturing and/or killing), or damage, obstruct, alter or destroy a bat roost. A bat roost is protected at all times irrespective as to whether any bats are using the roost at a given time.
Echoes Ecology began life as a specialist bat and bird consultancy and over the years we have grown to be one of the most experienced and well-respected companies in Scotland when it comes to bat-related surveying, licensing and mitigation and compensation strategies.
We have a number of SNH licensed bat workers within the team. Their licences permit disturbance of bats in roosts, handling of bats, use of hand nets to catch bats and surveying of hibernation roosts. Some of the team also have licenses permitting the of catching bats using harp traps, mist nets, and use of acoustic lures.
We use the current Bat Conservation Trust guidance (‘Bat Survey for Professional Ecologists: Good Practice Guidelines (3rd Edition)’) to help determine our survey methodologies. To download a non-printable PDF from the BCT website see: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/batsurveyguide.html.
The services we offer relating to bats include:
- Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) – this is the first stage of survey which involves surveying a structure internally and externally, looking for potential for, and evidence of, roosting bats. Our staff have undergone loft access training and low risk confined space training to assist with such surveys. PRA surveys can also be carried out on trees, looking for features which may be used by roosting bats. These surveys can be carried out at any time of year. A building or tree is concluded as being of negligible, low, moderate or high suitability for roosting bats.
- Hibernation Assessments – if a structure is assessed as being suitable for hibernating bats, surveys using automated detectors are carried out between December and February. In addition, an internal and external inspection is carried out in January, which is the time of the year that most bats are usually found in hibernacula.
- Activity surveys – when a building or tree is assessed as having suitability for roosting bats, surveys are carried out at dusk and at dawn to look for bats leaving and returning to roosts. The number of surveys to be carried out depends on the level of roost suitability as assessed during the PRA, and the surveys must be undertaken between May and September.
- Transects – we design and carry out walked and driven transects for surveying bat activity across habitats, e.g. at proposed wind farm sites.
- Remote detectors – we use remote detectors (such as Anabats and SM2 detectors) to record long term bat activity in structures or in the field.
- DNA dropping analysis – we can collect and send away bat droppings for DNA analysis to confirm species ID.
If during the surveys we find a bat roost, and the works proposed will affect bats or their roosts, a European Protected Species (EPS) licence, issued by the licensing authority Scottish Natural Heritage, will be required so as to permit an otherwise illegal activity. In addition, mitigation and/or compensation will almost certainly be required. Echoes Ecology are experienced in the writing of Species Protection Plans (SPP) to accompany licence applications and we have built up a wealth of experience concerning the design and implementation of mitigation and compensation strategies.
For more information on bat licensing within Scotland visit Scottish Natural Heritage’s website here.