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Bats in Historic Building Advice: James Fisher, June 2012

Quick Guide to Bats in Buildings

Background:
Many species of bat can be found throughout Peterborough, each of which has its own preferred habitat and roosting behaviour. This means that bats can be found in a wide variety of situations. This is made more likely if a building is in close proximity to foraging habitats which are particularly favourable for bats such as wetland and woodland habitats.

bat

Janice Whittington / Bat Conservation Trust

Bat Behaviour:
All British bats are nocturnal, spending daylight hours in roosts before emerging at night to forage for insects. They hibernate during the winter in hibernation roosts and the females gather in maternity roosts during the summer months to have their young. A variety of types of roost are used by bats during different seasons and by male bats roosting alone.

Buildings more likely to be suitable for bats:
• All agricultural buildings (e.g. farmhouses and barns) particularly of traditional brick or stone construction and/or with exposed wooden beams greater than 20cm thick
• All buildings with weather boarding and/or hanging tiles that are within 200m of woodland and/or water
• Pre-1960 detached buildings and structures within 200m of woodland and/or water
• Pre-1914 buildings within 400m of woodland and/or water
• Pre-1914 buildings with gable ends or slate roofs, regardless of location
• All tunnels, kilns, ice-houses, adits, military fortifications, air raid shelters, cellars and similar underground ducts and structures
• All bridge structures, aqueducts and viaducts (especially over water and wet ground)
• Buildings and walls with thick, dense ivy covering
• Tall walls (higher than 2 m) with crevices present

Specific features in buildings where bats may be found:
Bats are very small and in addition to lofts/ roof-spaces (south-facing in particular), can be found under slates, soffits & eaves, in wall cavities and can use gable ends, window sills, fascia boards, porches & cellars.

Signs of bats:
• Bats do not make nests & don’t cause any structural damage
• Look for droppings (contain insect remains & crumble easily; rodent droppings are smooth & go hard)
• Grease marks on rafters
• Urine splashes
• Cobweb-free corners
• Insect remains
• Listen for ‘chittering’ noises
• Seeing bats!

Bats and the Law:
Please note that it is an offence to handle bats without a Natural England licence.
Due to the decline in bat numbers in the last century, all UK bat species are protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Conservation of Habitats & Species Regulations 2010. This makes it illegal to:
• Damage or destroy a bat roost (whether occupied or not)
• Deliberately capture (take), injure or kill bats;
• Intentionally or recklessly disturb any bat whilst it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for shelter or protection;
• Obstruct access to any structure or place which any bat uses for shelter or protection.

Further Advice:
• If you come across a bat or have any urgent queries, please call the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228. The Bat Conservation Trust can be contacted at: enquiries@bats.org.uk
• For any planning related enquiries, please contact the Wildlife Officer at Peterborough City Council on 01773 453543.
• Useful websites:
Cambridgeshire Bat Group: http://www.cambsbats.co.uk/
Bat Conservation Trust: http://www.bats.org.uk/
Natural England: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

References:
• Bat Surveys Good Practice Guidelines (Bat Conservation Trust 2012)
• Peterborough City Council Biodiversity Checklist & Notes (2008)
• Thomson’s wildlife on site handbook 2011/12 (Thomson Ecology Ltd 2011)

Discussion

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