Bats are occasionally encountered in people’s houses or on people’s land which may be developed through planning. Here is some general advice on what you can do to help bats if they are found on either your own or others property  and what actions may be required by law.

Bats are protected by law but what exactly does that mean?

It is a criminal offence to…

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats
  • Damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time)
  •  Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat
  •  Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost

What happens if a site is being developed and there are bats?

Development proposals should have as much information about roosts, bat foraging and commuting habitat, and the management and protection of existing roosts and habitat areas before planning permission can be granted.

This is usually provided by a survey report from a professional ecologist.

Planning authorities will make restrictions to take the bat activity into account when granting permission.

What do I do if I believe bats are present on the site and a planning application is being made?

Check the planning application for a bat survey. If no bat survey or ecological survey including a bat survey has been made inform the planners of your concern. You will need to offer some information about the whereabouts of the bats on the site, and what activity you have seen.

If a building with a bat roost is due to be demolished can the developers go ahead?

The developers can apply for a licence to do the work. This will enable them to carry out the works within certain restrictions laid down in the application that are specific to the findings of the bat survey.

The bat survey found no bat roosts but we see bats around the trees every night, what can we do?

To challenge the findings of the bat survey you will need to provide real information about bat activity. You will need to record exactly what time and on which nights bats are seen; how many bats are seen at any one time, what they are doing (flying in straight lines across the site, flying round trees etc.). This information is best collected at sunset for two hours and again from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunrise. Bats are not usually active between November and March. Nevertheless this may not be sufficient to prevent development, rather it may improve the strategy behind the mitigation provision.

The bat survey recommends that bat boxes are put up to replace a Pipistrelle roost, is this a suitable compensation for the bats?

Very probably not, because bats are very loyal to their existing roosts, however mitigation practices are improving and becoming more appropriate for bats needs. Find out more from BCT and Natural England websites.

 A planning application has recently been submitted . I am sure that bats are roosting in the buildings. What should I do?
Register your concerns, in writing, to the local planning office (see links page). Keep a diary and record bat activities. Please also report the roost to us here.

I have registered my concerns that bats will be affected by a planning application with my local planning office but they seem to have disregarded my comments. What should I do?
Contact Natural England or phone them on 0845 600 3078

As part of a planning application I have submitted I have been informed by my local council that I will have to have a bat survey undertaken. How do I go about this?
We have a list of environmental consultancies qualified to carry out bat surveys on our website here. Contact them directly to obtain a quote and more information regarding the survey here.

Can the West Yorkshire bat Group object to the development I am concerned about? 

There are too many planning applications for West Yorkshire Bat Group to get involved in. West Yorkshire Bat Group hold a large number of records available to ecological consultants for a fee. Please contact our Commercial enquiries officer for more information about record searches.

In addition, West Yorkshire Ecology is the local records centre for Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield districts. Their website is accessible HERE and includes information on bats and other species in the area.

West Yorkshire Ecology produce guidance about bat surveys and planning available here  –