Bats,Buildings and the Law.
When undertaking work to a thatched roof or accessing the roofs structure for assessment, it may be that bats are encountered. These fascinating mammals are heavily dependent on buildings as the majority of our species use them as roosts throughout the year. When they are present, bats are often concealed in crevices, behind roofing felt, in cavity walls or under ridge tiles and are not often seen. Bats rarely cause any problems when they roost in houses and as long as bats aren’t handled, there are no known health risks to the public associated with UK bats.
There are 17 different species of bat breeding in UK, some very rare, others still quite widespread, but all of which are fully protected under international and domestic legislation. Due to the significant decline in bat populations in the last century both domestic and international legislation applies to protect all bats and their roosts in the UK, whether they are present in the roost or not.
You may be committing a criminal offence if you –
1. Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat;
2. Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats;
3. Damage or destroy the breeding or resting place (roost) of a bat;
4. Possess a bat (alive or dead), or any part of a bat;
5. Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost.
The potential fine for any bat related offence is £5,000 and if more than one bat is involved, the fine is potentially £5,000 per bat! In England and Wales an offender can also be imprisoned for six months.
If bats are found when accessing or repairing a roof or entering a roof void, leave the area immediately and call the Bat Conservation Trust National Bat Helpline for advice: 0345 1300 228.
The Helpline can send a volunteer round through the local SNCO (Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation) on a free of charge visit to check how the roof is used by bats, and they will write and advise on how best to go about any works, causing minimal disturbance to the bats.
For futher information please see the Bat Conservation Trust website.
© Bat Conservation Trust