£3.8m awarded for plan to save churches from in­va­sion of bats

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS -

A MULTI-MIL­LION pound pro­ject will help the UK’s pro­tected bat pop­u­la­tion live in greater har­mony with the his­toric churches that they seek a safe haven to roost in.

His­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant church mon­u­ments and memo­ri­als have been ir­repara­bly dam­aged due to the pres­ence of bats, and with £3.8m fund­ing from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund, Nat­u­ral Eng­land in­tends to ad­dress this.

Over the next five years, the gov­ern­ment agency will work with wildlife, her­itage con­ser­va­tion and church groups to pro­tect both bats and the fabric of church build­ings and yards.

A loss of nat­u­ral habi­tats is blamed for bats seek­ing refuge at churches, and with the UK’s bat pop­u­la­tion hav­ing suf­fered a se­ri­ous his­tor­i­cal de­cline, they are legally pro­tected from be­ing dis­turbed.

The Bats in Churches pro­ject aims to find prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions to al­low 102 of the most se­verely im­pacted church com­mu­ni­ties to re­duce the im­pact of bats, with­out harm­ing them.

Vol­un­teers will be trained to un­der­take bat sur­veys, ecol­o­gists and his­toric build­ing spe­cial­ists will learn new tech­niques to ad­vise con­gre­ga­tions and more than 700 churches across Eng­land will be sur­veyed.

Kit Stoner, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bat Con­ser­va­tion Trust, one of the part­ners in the scheme, said: “Pro­tect­ing our nat­u­ral and his­tor­i­cal her­itage will cre­ate a last­ing le­gacy that will ben­e­fit present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

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