Katy Stiles, Senior Ecologist in our Derbyshire office, was recently invited to attend a consultation workshop on Bats in Churches Project. The event, held in Coventry in May 2016, was facilitated by the Arthur Rank Centre and organised by the Bats and Churches Project Team.
The aim of the event was to give interested parties the opportunity to discuss the outcome of recent research, share practical ideas about trying to balance the needs of the bats with the preservation and use of churches. A key part of the event was to discuss and determine the future priorities for both education and research. Katy was invited because of her experience of working with bats and churches on a range of sites in the East Midlands. This includes St Nicholas Church in Northamptonshire which was one of the case studies that was discussed at the event.
St Nicholas Church, Northamptonshire
St Nicholas Church is a Grade 1 Listed church that supports a large soprano pipistrelle roost as well as smaller roosts of brown long-eared bat, common pipistrelle and Natterer’s bats. With funding from Natural England and English Heritage (now Historic England), BSG carried out a feasibility study (2009) to examine the options for the provision of artificial maternity roosts and swarming displacement structures within the church. The aim of this study was to investigate options for reducing the impacts of bats on the fabric of the church, whilst at the same time avoiding or minimising harm to bats. This included partial bat exclusion, provision of a purpose built bat box, provision of canopies / covers to protect monuments and tombs and the use of paid cleaners to assist the church with cleaning.
This feasibility study led to BSG being commissioned to undertake a second phase of research in 2012 which included bat surveys, collection of temperature data on the existing soprano pipistrelle roost location using remote data loggers, the organisation of a short-term cleaning contract, interviews with the interested parties and the provision of a heated bat box within the church tower. The overall aim of the second phase of research was to investigate more fully some of the options that had been put forward as part of phase 1. The heated bat box was provided to encourage bats to re-locate within the church to a less sensitive area in order to minimise impacts on important tombs and monuments.
New research has been undertaken and is currently on-going to investigate the use of light and acoustic deterrents to try to manipulate where bats roost within the church and provide a heated bat box directly behind the roost access point to contain the roost. This work is part of a research project being undertaken by the University of Bristol
Katy said “the workshop on Bats in Church was a wonderful opportunity to discuss how bat issues can be successfully managed in churches. There was an interesting range of talks from Tim Allen (Historic England), Philip Parker (Philip Parker Associates) and Denise Foster (Herefordshire Mammals Group), on on-going surveys and research. Hopefully there will be similar opportunities in the future to ensure that the research and information can be shared amongst interested parties”.
A full report of the workshop and details of the presentations will be available on www.batsandchurches.org.uk in due course.
If you would like to discuss the research that BSG Ecology carried out or if you have a matter that you wish to discuss regarding bats and churches please contact Katy Stiles in the Derbyshire office.
 Historic England, the Bat Conservation Trust, the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England, the Churches Conservation Trust and Natural England
 English Heritage Research Project: 6199. Management of Bats in Churches-a pilot