A recent project at Houghton on the Hill, Leicestershire, provides a good example of how the Bat Low Impact Class Licence process can be applied to ensure a project proceeds to time and budget (despite unforeseen circumstances), while also acting to conserve bats.
The aim of Natural England’s (NE) Bat Low Impact Class Licence is to provide a more efficient and proportionate approach to licensing for bats in circumstances where impacts are likely to be very limited. NE’s objective in introducing this licence is to provide a more streamlined service for developers that is appropriate to situations where effects on bats can be easily mitigated (but which nonetheless require a licence to derogate the law).
Houghton on the Hill Primary School is being extended and work is currently underway. A check that was carried out by an ecologist prior to work being carried out on one of the existing school buildings, found a single common pipistrelle bat roosting behind a fascia board. This meant that work had to stop until a licence could be secured.
A Way Forward
Following the discovery of the bat a site registration form was completed and submitted to Natural England, who confirmed the registration of the site after just four working days. A Registered Consultant from BSG Ecology then attended site to oversee the work, ensuring that bats were not harmed. In advance of this a bat box had been erected nearby to provide an alternative roost location if a bat should subsequently need to be relocated during the exclusion process. From the discovery of the bat to the completion of the licensed work took twelve working days, ensuring that delays to the construction work were kept to a minimum.
The unexpected discovery of a roosting bat had the potential to significantly delay the construction of an extension to Houghton on the Hill Primary School. To obtain a licence using the standard licensing route typically takes 30 working days from the application being submitted to Natural England. In this case the Bat Low Impact Class Licence was secured and the work completed within twelve working days. This meant that the cost to the project and the impact on the construction timetable was kept to a minimum.