What builders need to know about bats...

Stockport Times East - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

IN re­cent weeks, a num­ber of read­ers, in­clud­ing two builders, have asked me about bats in build­ings.

In the case of the builders, they had dis­cov­ered bats were roost­ing in the roof of a house as they were about to start a job, and their ques­tion was: “Can we carry on?”

The fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion, should help them and will hope­fully be of in­ter­est to all read­ers.

Bat roosts are pro­tected, even when the bats are ab­sent. It is im­por­tant that you can recog­nise a roost and know what to do and who to con­tact.

Many species of bats are en­dan­gered or threat­ened, so both UK and Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion gives them full pro­tec­tion. It is il­le­gal to in­ten­tion­ally kill, in­jure or take bats or in­ten­tion­ally or reck­lessly dam­age or de­stroy their roosts or disturb bats.

Be­cause bats tend to re­turn to the same roosts each year, th­ese sites are pro­tected whether the bats are present or not.

In dwelling-houses where there is a bat roost, the law al­lows you to carry out build­ing main­te­nance or re­me­dial op­er­a­tions. How­ever, you must no­tify www.nat­u­raleng­land.org. uk in ad­vance and al­low them time to ad­vise whether the op­er­a­tion should be car­ried out and, if so, the method and tim­ing of the work.

Such ac­tions in­clude ren­o­va­tion or any ap­pli­ca­tion of pes­ti­cides such as for wasps nests, or re­me­dial tim­ber treat­ment. Early con­sul­ta­tion, prefer­ably at the sur­vey stage, can help avoid de­lays and the il­le­gal killing of bats, or the un­nec­es­sary de­struc­tion of their roosts. In ur­gent cases ad­vice can of­ten be given by the Bat Con­ser­va­tion Trust.

If any read­ers have any ques­tions about bats – whether builders or not, they can con­tact the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228.

Jamie Eastham of the Trust said: “We have a bats and built en­vi­ron­ment of­fi­cer, who works di­rectly with the build­ing sec­tor to pro­mote good prac­tice and en­cour­age bat­friendly build­ing, and also to help find so­lu­tions.”

He said they also had an in­ves­ti­ga­tions of­fi­cer who worked hard to ed­u­cate the build­ing sec­tor about bats.

“Our char­ity also runs pro­fes­sional train­ing cour­ses for builders.”

Where you pro­pose work to build­ings that are not dwellings, such as churches and barns, you need to con­sult – as ap­pro­pri­ate – the Depart­ment for En­vi­ron­ment Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs - De­fra.

All UK bats are small, eat in­sects and rarely dam­age prop­erty.

They roost in a va­ri­ety of places in­clud­ing build­ings and house roofs and may form colonies or be found singly or in small groups.

You may find bats in build­ings at any time of the year, though they are most com­monly found in sum­mer when some species form ma­ter­nity colonies. When bats use build­ings, they usu­ally con­ceal them­selves in crevices, be­hind roof­ing felt, in cav­ity walls or un­der ridge tiles.

They are not of­ten seen in the roof space. Two species of horse­shoe bat, both rare and found only in Eng­land and Wales, sleep hang­ing free by their feet. The re­main­der may do this rarely but more com­monly cling on with thumbs and feet or squeeze into crevices.

You can ex­pect to find bats in all kinds of build­ings and you should be aware that al­most any roof or build­ing is a po­ten­tial bat roost.

Bats will usu­ally be in or about the roof but may also roost in other parts.

You should there­fore, as a mat­ter of course, check for the pres­ence of bat drop­pings and bats be­fore car­ry­ing out any work.

In a small roof, five min­utes spent specif­i­cally on this check would find an es­tab­lished roost.

In a larger build­ing about the same time should be spent on each roof sec­tion. The search can then be con­tin­ued at the same time as other work.

The key fea­ture to look for is the pres­ence of drop­pings. Th­ese are dark brown or black and be­tween 4 and 8mm long – the same size or slightly larger than a grain of rice.

Bat Con­ser­va­tion Trust

A pip­istrelle bat in flight at night time

Sean.wood @talk21.com

The Laugh­ing Bad­ger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glossop

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